CHRISTMAS is coming… and fast, whether you’re ready or not; this is what a little girl told me as she pointed to her pink, and fabulous, festive jumper! The run-up to 25 December is a frantic frenzy for most of us, no matter how calm or organised we promised to be this year. “Stressed” rather than “all sorted” seems to be the overwhelming feeling for many different reasons as the busy winter season takes over.
But for the children I met on 6 December 2017, life is a challenging struggle for them, and their families, every single day as they face conditions such as cancer and autism. However, with the help of our Thomas Cook Children’s Charity, it really warms my heart to see some of their troubles fade away, and to watch beaming smiles replace the worry on a fantastic family day out; 7,000 feet in the sky.
Every year at Christmas time, we host the ‘Flight of Dreams’ from different airports across the UK, for children to enjoy a fun-packed plane-ride in search of Santa. For some of the 220 children, carers and families on board this Flight of Dreams, this is their first ever journey on a plane, and what could be better than getting a special visit from Santa himself while on board!?
Although this is my second year supporting the Flight of Dreams by taking photos to capture the magical day unfolding, Thomas Cook Children’s Charity have organised 26 flights so far. It’s not long now until the magic man in red will fly his sleigh around the world visiting all families; the countdown is certainly in full swing. But Santa still found the time to sing a few carols with us (what a booming baritone voice he has!), starting with “The Twelve Days of Christmas!”
Here’s my version of the 12 days of Christmas, to tell my story about the Flight of Dreams.
“On the Flight of Dreams this Christmas, with my camera, what did I see?”
“SANTA on a joyful journey”
A true legend of a gentleman; he knows just how to make these children’s wishes come true.
“TWO polite pilots”
The mince pies even made their way to the pilots in the plane’s cockpit! They’ve politely agreed with Santa that his sleigh-parking permit on top of the plane is for an hour, so that he can meet all the children on board!
“THREE elfie selfies”
Time to use those large pointed ears and listen out for the gate number call! The elves told me today’s magical departure gate would be the same as my birth date: the 16th (how did they know?).
“FOUR babies babbling”
Santa is happy to have lots of little helpers, no matter how old or young, to gurgle along for a merry sing-song!
“FIVE golden specs”
They say Santa can deliver presents around the world on Christmas Eve in a twinkle of an eye, but he may need to remember his gold-rimmed spectacles! (He keeps four spare ones, just in case.)
“SIX sacks of presents”
It wouldn’t be a Christmassy day out without meeting Santa face-to-face under the Christmas tree; after we landed back in the airport. He stayed a while longer to give out a present to everyone (well, all the girls and boys on the nice list!).
“SEVEN glitter paints”
There are many things that glow with Christmas spirit on board the Flight of Dreams; glitter face paint, the glimmering decorations and even an elf called Sparkle!
“EIGHT social media updates”
Sharing the magic with friends and family on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram; well, it’s not often that ‘Polar Bear Pete’ and ‘Polar Bear Paul’ are there with a cosy welcome and Christmas cheer to defrost you! @TCAirlinesUK; @TCCcharity; @EMA-airport @gem106fm; @cashforkidsgem; @HamleysToys #FlightofDreams #missionchristmas
“NINE radiant reindeer”
Although it can cause quite a stir on exactly how many reindeer there really are, today we can’t forget Rudolph, with his nose so bright!
“TEN twinkles of magic”
Twinkle, twinkle, little star; or rather, the big and brilliant North Star! With smiles shining, everyone’s feeling very optimistic on board. The crazy-fun cabin crew let us into a little secret: hope and teamwork make twinkling magic.
“ELEVEN party games on the plane”
From colouring pictures of Lollo & Bernie and elves juggling, to wizards doing tricks, the children’s search for Santa is full of fun surprises for the whole family!
“TWELVE vibrant volunteers”
They’re making a list, and checking it twice! From check-in challenges, mince pie muddles and being mindful of children’s medication times, all volunteers and staff involved worked wonders to keep the Christmas spirit alive for everyone; a terrific Flight of Dreams team to be part of again this year.
May the next 12 days of Christmas bring you picture-perfect memories to last a lifetime, where all your dreams and wishes come true (don’t worry; I’ve already put a good word or two in with Santa for you!). Have yourself a merry little Christmas.
What’s your favourite Christmas carol? I’d love to hear in the comments below.