A group of youngsters with life-threatening illnesses have been gifted a trip to Lapland by non-profit organisation When You Wish Upon A Star (WYWUAS).

The trip – which took place last weekend – included husky sleigh rides, reindeer rides, sledging and a meeting with Santa, getting the festive season into full swing and giving children a break from the usual schedule of hospital appointments at home.

The charity used £90,000 worth of donations to charter a private flight from East Midlands Airport for the group of children from across the UK, including: Barnsley, Chesterfield, Derby, Falkirk, Halifax, Huddersfield, Leicester, Lincolnshire, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Nottingham, Peterborough, Sheffield, Shropshire, Stockport and Stoke-on-Trent.

Karen Martt, general manager at WYWUAS, said:

“We always look forward to our annual Lapland trip – it’s such a special Christmas present to give to those families that need it the most.

“The trip allows children with life-threatening illnesses to forget about the gruelling rigmarole of treatments and soak up the magic of Christmas with Santa himself. We love being able to create a safe space for both guardians and children to relax and make memories that last forever, without worrying about the stresses of life at home.”

All of the families and WYWUAS staff in the forest in Lapland

After landing in Lapland, the children were taken to a magical forest to explore their snow-covered surroundings and enjoy a firework display with their loved ones.

Following a hot dinner and a chance to warm up, the guests were treated to a meeting with Santa Claus, where each child got the chance to tell him what they wanted for Christmas and receive an early present.

Emmerdale stars Ash Palmisciano, Jonny McPherson and Natalie Robb also joined the group for the festivities to help raise awareness of the trip and the work carried out by the charity.

Karen added:

“We’re proud to have been able to host another successful trip to Lapland and want to thank each and every person who donated to WYWUAS this year – we could not have done it without them.

“All of the donations go towards granting the wishes of special children and we hope 2020 is another successful year of fundraising and turning dreams into a reality.”

11-year-old Finley Wake from Chesterfiled visits Santa in Lapland

It costs £900 to send each child and their guardian to Lapland, so generous donations are essential to ensure the organisation can continue this magical Christmas tradition.

The charity is already preparing for another year of fundraising for its 30th Anniversary in 2020 and is seeking volunteers to support its efforts of providing respite for families in need.

To take part in the charity’s campaigns, please visit www.whenyouwishuponastar.org.uk or contact WYWUAS at fundraising@whenyouwish.org.uk or by calling 0115 9791720.