Two Downpatrick Brothers Get Early Visit From Santa

The Northern Ireland Children to Lapland Charity Kickstarts Its Alternative Christmas Campaign Due To Covid-19.

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The Northern Ireland Children to Lapland Charity Kickstarts Its Alternative Christmas Campaign Due To Covid-19.

Delighted to get a visit from Santa’s elves and chat to Santa in Lapland were (l-r) Daniel and Jamie Rogan from Downpatrick with help from NI Children to Lapland.

The charity Northern Ireland Children to Lapland and Days to Remember Trust was forced to cancel its annual flight to Lapland. Instead it has swapped air miles for garden visits, with two young County Down brothers in Downpatrick being the first to benefit.

The Northern Ireland Children to Lapland and Days to Remember Trust (NICLT), which takes 100 local children, with life-threatening or life limiting conditions, to Lapland every year, has begun its new COVID safe festive campaign, delivering gifts to 101 very special children across NI.

The NICLT was forced to cancel its yearly trip to Santa’s Grotto in Lapland in light of the pandemic and instead opted for a safer option, which will see it deliver gifts to the value of £200 to each of the children nominated by the various Hospital Trusts. The campaign will also see siblings of those affected by illness and/or disability also receive smaller gifts.

First stop for the campaign was Downpatrick, where the Rogan brothers Jamie and Daniel, were paid a visit by Santa’s little helpers and elves.

Jamie and Daniel live with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a genetic disease, which causes muscle weakness and stiffness. Both boys’ mobility has been severely compromised by the condition, although the arrival, just one week ago, of two electric wheelchairs has already made a big difference

Their mum Clare discovered that Jamie had the condition when he was just two years old and, during her third pregnancy, it was revealed that that child would have a 50/50 chance of having the same condition.

The family was nominated for the NICLT campaign by the Royal Victoria Hospital for Sick Children, for how the family has met the challenges presented on a daily basis by the condition.

Mum, Clare Rogan, said: “The work that the Northern Ireland Children to Lapland charity does is tremendous.

First stop for the campaign was Downpatrick, where the Rogan brothers Jamie and Daniel, were paid a visit by Santa’s helpers and elves. Jamie and Daniel live with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a genetic disease which causes muscle weakness and stiffness. Included are charity supporter Tommy Bowe, Gerry Kelly, President, NICTL;  and Colin Barkley, Chair of NICLT, with (l-r) Daniel and Jamie Rogan.

“To be able to switch things around so quickly this year and still allow many children across NI the chance to feel that Lapland magic has been extra special for us as a family.

“We are living with the impact of the boys’ lack of mobility and all that comes with that.”

The campaign, which the charity has called ‘Three Steps to Christmas’ began with a detailed and touching letter from Santa to the 101 children nominated. This was followed up by a video greeting, from Santa himself, from his home in Lapland, with his head elf, Juju, by his side.

Now, at the final stage, a further 99 children across NI will receive gifts right to their doorsteps in time for Christmas.

The campaign was only made possible by the many supporters of NICLT, who donated funds and embarked on their own fundraising activities to raise money.

It was also made possible by NI telecoms firm, Barclay Communications, who made a magnificent donation of £20,000 last month, to pay for every gift purchased for the nominated children.

Britt Megahey, Founder and Managing Director of Barclay Communications, said: ” We have always admired the work that the Northern Ireland Children to Lapland and Days to Remember Trust does and when we heard that they couldn’t fulfil their annual commitment of taking 100 vulnerable children to Lapland this year, we wanted to do what we could to help.

“Their efforts to raise the necessary funds had been met with many challenges. To see the campaign roll out across Northern Ireland is very heart-warming and we are honoured that as a business we were in a position to help those children who need it most.”

Speaking about the efforts to make the initiative happen, Colin Barkley, Chair of NICLT, said: “We are delighted to be able to kick start our campaign and, while we know that our Three Steps to Christmas might not equal a trip to Lapland, it will recreate some of that magic in the safest way possible.

The Rogan brothers Jamie and Daniel were paid a visit by Santa’s helpers and elves in Downpatrick through NI Children To Lapland. Pictured are elves (l-r) Aleesha Williamson- Deronja and Fiona Williamson, General Manager, NICTL.

“We would like to thank those who continued to raise funds for us and donate during this challenging time and, of course, Barclay Communications for its huge generosity which has eased the weight and pressure felt by us at this time.”

The charity’s President Gerry Kelly added, “We receive no Government or Lotto funding and everything we do is entirely self-funded.

“We rely on the generosity of individuals and companies across NI. We count ourselves very fortunate to have our fund-raising team in Carrickfergus and our Corporate Partners, The Bushmills Inn, Glens of Antrim Potatoes, C-Tec (NI) in Newry, Hagan Homes, Wineflair and, of course, Barclay Communications by our side.”

“Their ongoing support once again this year, allows us to start making ambitious plans for 2021, which, if circumstances allow, we hope will include taking an even larger group than originally anticipated to Disneyland in Paris as well as our annual trip to Lapland.”

Joining in on the distribution of the presents was former Ireland and British Lions Rugby star Tommy Bowe, who said: “I have been aware for some time of the work of the Lapland Trust.

“This was the first time that I had had the chance to see it for myself, up close and personal.

“What they do is absolutely fabulous and, as the father of two young children myself, it was really special to see the sheer joy on the faces of the two lads…and, boy, don’t they deserve those presents.”

To find out more about the charity click on:

 https://www.niclt.org/ 

or follow on Facebook: @childrentolaplandtrust