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Charity takes children on Lapland visit

The children got to meet Father Christmas in Lapland.

Terminally ill children have enjoyed a magical trip to Lapland as a local charity organised for them to meet Santa Claus.

Saturday, 22 December 2012
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Over 200 children from Northern Ireland, many of whom suffer from life-limiting or other serious conditions, travelled from Belfast International Airport to meet Father Christmas.

Not only did they get to meet the man himself, but the children and their families got to enjoy many exciting activities in the winter wonderland including reindeer and husky dog rides, sledging through the snow and receiving special gifts.

Leah Calvert, whose son suffers from a life-limiting illness said the trip meant a lot to him and the family.

"It's great to see him running around cause we never thought we'd see the day," she said.

"It means a lot, he was so excited. This is a holiday of a lifetime."

Consultant Paediatrician Dr Heather McCluggage, who travelled with the group said the trip is not only for sick children, but for the whole family to take time away from hospitals and enjoy themselves.

"We have a couple of families with siblings that are here because the siblings get set to one side, through no fault of anyone's but just that they are not the sick child and it's really nice to see them spend time with a parent (here)," she explained.

The charity Children To Lapland has been running the trips for six years now and each time it takes thousands of pounds and a lot of organisation to accommodate everyone's needs.

Chairman Jack Rogers said security can be a big problem as a lot of children have to travel with oxygen and medication.

But as he explains, the trips are hugely rewarding for all involved.

He said: "When you see the smile on their faces and on the parents' faces it's just magic."