Airports

Published on December 21st, 2022 | by Alan Dwyer

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100 Children Travel from Belfast with TUI to Lapland

The Northern Ireland Children to Lapland Trust’s flight with TUI took off on Wednesday heading for Lapland to see Santa Claus. It was a very early start for up to 100 children, their parents, carers, and medical professionals as they headed to Belfast International Airport to board the first Northern Ireland Children to Lapland and Days to Remember Trust (NICLT) Lapland flight for the first time since the pandemic. The trip will see the children — those living with challenging conditions, some of which are life-threatening as well as life-limiting — and a huge support team made up of Trust medics, nurses, and carers, as well as parents, arrive at the airport for 5 am.

Tour operator TUI had the aircraft ready for takeoff where the fun and games began, including art competitions and sing-alongs. After a three-hour flight, the children made their way to the magical location of Rovaniemi where Santa resides in a cavernous and truly magical winter wonderland, under the Arctic Circle. The mystical spot, 800 kilometres north of Helsinki, is where the children met with Santa and his huskies, bake with Mrs. Claus, take a magical train ride and even qualify for Elf school.
This year will mark NICLT’s eleventh trip to Lapland, while the 2022 passengers onboard will bring the total amount of guests the charity has taken to Rovaniemi to over 1200 in its 12 years of operation.

The mission of the trip is to give deserving children from across Northern Ireland an experience that they can cherish; an experience that would otherwise not be possible given the complexities associated with traveling with many of the conditions the children are living with. At any given stage in Northern Ireland, there are at least 1500 children suffering from a terminal or life-limiting illness and NICLT has an objective to alleviate the pressures these children and their families face by organising experiences like the Lapland visit. This year the usual cost of the trip — approximately £750 per child — has increased substantially to accommodate the cost of living crisis and surging fuel costs. It means the Northern Ireland Children to Lapland and Days to Remember Trust has had to intensify its fundraising efforts and appeals while many of its corporate partners dug even deeper to ensure the resumption of the trip.

Commenting ahead of the special day, NICLT’s President, Gerry Kelly, said: “We are delighted to be able to resume our trip to Lapland this Christmas and create memories with some of the most deserving children here and their families. The Northern Ireland Children to Lapland Trust relies solely on donations and fundraising drives and we are so grateful to our donors, supporters, and corporate partners who have empathised greatly and reflected those higher costs pressures on us through their contributions. Without them our trip to Lapland this year would not be happening.”

Also commenting was the Business Development Director at Belfast International Airport, Uel Hoey who said, “We are extremely proud to partner with this amazing charity and TUI to make this trip a truly memorable experience for all of the children. We have worked with the Northern Ireland Children to Lapland and Days To Remember Trust for many years and we are looking forward to welcoming these very important passengers as they head off for some magical adventures in Lapland.”

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