Girda Ripsiene and daughter Urte from Randalstown in Lapland last December.
ANORTHERN Ireland charity which has brought hundreds of ill and vulnerable NI children to Lapland over the past 12 years has vowed to ‘keep the magic alive’ this Christmas despite the coronavirus pandemic.
The Northern Ireland Children to Lapland and Days to Remember Trust has swapped air miles for groundwork so it can continue to provide an experience that enriches the lives of some of the most vulnerable young people in our society.
Instead of its traditional annual flight to Rovaniemi, Finland to visit the Big Man himself, the charity will embark on a new, temporary initiative called “Three Steps To Christmas”.
This campaign will call on health trusts to nominate 100 very special terminally ill, life-limited or deserving children from all over Northern Ireland to receive some extra special Christmas presents from NICLT while their siblings can join in the festivities as they too receive a smaller gift.
The “Three Steps To Christmas” will begin with a detailed and touching personal letter from Santa. This will be followed up by a video greeting from the man himself, from his home in Lapland, with his trusty elves, huskies and reindeer by his side.
And, finally, the chosen gifts will be delivered right to each child’s doorstep, just before Christmas and, if Covid regulations allow, some of Santa’s elves to help with the deliveries.
It is hoped that with each stage the excitement will grow and be enjoyed not only by the child, but also by the entire extended family who can join in the fun.
The charity made the decision to cancel its trip to Lapland earlier this year as Covid-19 presented bigger challenges to the travel industry. Its announcement comes just days after travel giant TUI confirmed it would be cancelling all of its trips to Lapland.
It was a tough decision to make, says Colin Barkley, Chair of Northern Ireland Children to Lapland and Days to Remember Trust (NICLT).
He said: “It’s hard to believe that our hopes and dreams at the turn of this new decade have been put on hold due to circumstances that no-one could have ever predicted and as Covid-19 played havoc with how we work, live and play, we at the Northern Ireland Children to Lapland and Days to Remember Trust were regrettably forced to make tough decisions that have seen us postpone many of our much-loved annual events but like all our decisions, this was done with the health and safety of the children we support in mind.
“While these are difficult and unprecedented times, we can’t and won’t allow the magic of Christmas to be diminished for these wonderful children which is why we have created the Three Steps to Christmas campaign.
“It will allow us to support these children and still inject a bit of magic into their Christmas 2020.”
Gerry Kelly, President NICLT, added: “Covid-19 has made its mark felt on all sectors, not least the charity world but we have not taken a break from fundraising and instead have thought up creative ways to bring funds in to ensure that we can continue to provide an experience that enriches the lives of some of the most vulnerable young people in our society.
“We know the Three Steps to Christmas campaign might not equal a trip to Lapland but it will attempt to recreate some of that magic at the safety of our children’s own homes. We look forward to kicking off the campaign and would like to thank those who continued to raise funds for NICLT during this challenging time.”