Bolton kids fly to Lapland to meet Santa Claus
YOUNGSTERS from Bolton embarked on a magical journey to Lapland yesterday in the search for Santa Claus.
The children — many of whom have had a difficult year or two due to family tragedy or illness — boarded a special plane to meet Father Christmas, who greeted them mid flight to give out presents and sing Christmas songs.
The hour-long flight, called Search for Santa, was arranged by the charity, A Day of Sunshine, which raises money to take deserving youngsters on trips.
In total about 170 children from the North West, including children whose parents are out of the country serving with the Duke of Lancaster Regiment, went on the search.
One five-year-old girl, Dani Lee Hadfield, was flying with her cousin George, also five, and their grandmother Susan.
Dani Lee lost her stepfather Anthony Grainger in March 2012 after he was shot dead by police.
Mrs Hadfield, aged 54, said: “Dani Lee has been through a lot in the past couple of years. Anthony is still very much alive in her heart.
“She still asks for Anthony Daddy which is heartbreaking, so I’m hoping that this trip will lift her spirits a bit.”
Ellie Bustard, aged three, from Great Lever, had a rare viral condition which made her skin blister, meaning a two-week stay at the Royal Bolton Hospital last year.
Her father Barry, aged 39, said: “She had these blisters which were two to three centimetres high off her skin. It was horrible. She couldn’t eat. It was so worrying.
“After being on virus fighting medication she started improving and now she's fine thank goodness. This trip is just what she needs.”
Rose Grundy, aged 60, brought her two grandchildren Hannah, aged six, and Owen, aged five, after she recovered from an operation to remove part of her lung due to cancer.
She said: “I’ve been very poorly. I really didn’t think that I’d be here so I wanted to celebrate by taking them on a special trip.
“I’m not doing so bad now, but it was touch and go back in May when I had the operation. I still visit Bolton Hospice once a week — they’ve been fantastic. I also get out of breath but it’s a small price to pay to be with Hannah and Owen.”
Mark McGowan, aged 50, helps the charity by fundraising and transporting children to hospital and was invited to take his daughter Thea, aged six. He said: “I help fundraising through my mother-in-law’s fish and chip shop, Rigby’s Chippy, in Bolton, and drive the children to hospital when they need it, so my daughter and I were sponsored by the charity to come.
“A Day Of Sunshine is a fantastic charity and it’s an honour to be involved in something that brings so much happiness and relief to so many children.”
The charity was founded two years ago by chairman David Lee who says that without last minute sponsorship the trip wouldn’t have been able to go ahead.
He said: “We were saved by the O2 store who stepped in last minute.
“We’re only a young charity, but already we have had donations from Bolton Wanderers which have sent us tickets and signed footballs to give out or raffle off, which we’re really grateful for.”
To donate to A Day of Sunshine, or to find out more, visit dayof-sunshine.com or call 01253 720710.
The flight was sponsored by the O2 store in St Annes and Middlebrook, Bolton.
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