a break from reality to everyone affected by the daily battle.

When a child is diagnosed with an illness that requires consistent medical intervention, the family finds themselves living day to day. One parent, usually the mother, stays with their son or daughter during those long hospital stays and often has to give up work to care for their child. The other parent then works all hours on end to pay the bills on one wage. For single-parent families, this becomes even harder. Grandparents, aunts and uncles, or extended family members help care for any other children in the family, taking them to school or cooking dinner. Siblings often miss out on hobbies or holidays due to limited finances and some help by becoming young carers for their brother or sister. Families can go months between sitting down for a meal together, with the small things we all take for granted falling by the wayside for many.

‘‘There has been a spellbinding Harry Potter experience aboard the Belmond Northern Belle, a visit from Marvel’s favourite superheroes, and a VIP trip to CBeebies land.’’

Along with choosing their own wish, each child also chooses when they’d like to have it. Some prefer for their wish to be granted part way through treatment to help them keep going; others wait until afterwards as something to look forward to. The team also provide regular treat days or special days out for larger groups of children. In the past, there has been a spellbinding Harry Potter experience aboard the Belmond Northern Belle, a visit from Marvel’s favourite superheroes, and a VIP trip to CBeebies land.

One of the main events each year is where the

Wish Fairies take around 100 poorly children and their families to Lapland for a day of festive fun and magical memory making. This December, the day will begin at 5am where bleary eyed children arrive at the airport, with Santa’s elves waiting to check passengers in. While waiting to board their flight, specially chartered by the charity for their sole use, there is time for colouring and games. Once in the air aboard Santa Express, the joy continues with kids singing down the microphone or telling jokes. 37

As the children and their families depart at the winter wonderland, they are taken by coach to the enchanted forest which is white over with snow and trimmed up with lights. Time for snowball fights, tobogganing, and husky-drawn sleigh rides – including some specially adapted for wheelchair users - before toasting marshmallows over the fire and lots of hot chocolate while watching a spectacular firework display.

After a few hours in the sub-zero temperatures, the children, with their rosy cheeks and wide smiles, head to a hotel for a meal together with a very special guest also taking a pit stop from his pre-Christmas duties. With sleigh bells ringing in the air, Santa arrives with his reindeer and a sack full of presents for all the children.

Then it’s time to board the Santa Express to go home to bed after a truly magical day. Sadly, this may be the last Christmas some families spend together. But despite the grief they may be feeling, parents have the gift of those cherished memories, seeing happy faces playing in the snow, which will last a lifetime. Whether it’s the Lapland trip, the treat days or the individual wishes, the Wish team plan and organise every aspect to make sure parents have nothing to do other than simply turn up. They check with consultants whether a child is fit enough to fly or travel and arrange medical insurance which can be costly depending on the child’s condition. For the Lapland trip, a team of paramedics, nurses and doctors are voluntarily on-hand in case of emergencies. For holiday wishes, they have their own

private accommodation for families to stay in, such as a villa in Florida, an apartment in

Spain and a lodge in Cornwall. Every wish is provided free of charge and the

When You Wish Upon a Star team are always looking for extra support each year to fund even more wishes for sick children. They can’t make life changing wishes happen without the wonderful support and donations they receive.

Whatever people want to do, be it a wing walk or a coffee morning, the fundraising team can support the public in their pledge. Any money raised will go directly into making wishes come true, such as a ten-day trip to Florida for a family of four which costs around £7,000. To charter a plane to Lapland costs the charity £90,000 – and this year they are taking two. To help fund this, there is a fantastic festive mission asking people to do a Lap for Lapland. It could be a lap of the office, playground or sports track – every little helps. Businesses could also sponsor a seat and pledge to raise the cost of one person’s ticket which is £450.

At XPO Logistics in Barnsley, staff are doing a race to Lapland by cycling and running over 2,000 miles to mark the distance from their Grimethorpe warehouse to Santa’s workshop.

Instead of buying or receiving unwanted gifts for the adults this year, why not make a donation to make a child’s wish come true – Christmas is all about children, after all.

For more information about how to donate or apply for a wish, visit their website or contact Lincolnshire and Yorkshire fundraiser

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