Seven brave Nottingham children with life-threatening illnesses gifted a trip to Lapland

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

When You Wish Upon A Star (WYWUAS) has gifted seven local children with life-threatening illnesses a trip to Lapland to meet Santa Claus this Christmas. 

Elizabeth Heanaghan (age four), Abigail Sharpe, OIivia Wood, Nicholas Turnbull and Sofia Gardella (age five) and Jake Barksby and Rosie Bird (age six) were among the 32 brave children who flew to Lapland from East Midlands Airport to make exciting new memories with their loved ones. WYWUAS spent £90,000 to charter a private flight, using generous donations that had been collected throughout the year.

The trip – which took place last weekend (7 December) – included husky sleigh rides, reindeer rides and sledging, getting the festive season into full swing and giving children a break from the usual schedule of hospital appointments at home.

Speaking on the plane on the way to Lapland, Olivia’s mother Aimee Wood said: “We were really humbled when WYWUAS asked us to come on the trip and have been so overwhelmed by everything they have done for us.

“When Olivia was diagnosed with having ‘half a heart’ (double outlet right ventricle with complete atrioventricular septal defect) we began to focus on making the most of each day and creating memories as a family. This trip will give us the opportunity to experience something that I know the children will remember forever so we are incredibly grateful.”

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

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 Martt, General Manager at WYWUAS, said: ‘We always look forward to our annual Lapland visit – 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 children to relax and make memories that last forever, without worrying about the stresses of life at home.”

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.

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.”

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 or contact WYWUAS at or by calling 0115 9791720 .

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