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NI charity wraps up magic of Disneyland for 12 children living with serious health conditions

 

The Northern Ireland Children to Lapland and Days to Remember Trust, a charity that makes dreams come true for children living with serious conditions that are either life-limiting or life-threatening, has taken 12 local children to Disneyland Paris this week where they will spend three days.


Among the familes from across Northern Ireland were the Smyth family from Ballymena who went to Disneyland Paris with the charity this week.



Cooper Smyth (7) was nominated by the Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice. His mum and dad, Natalie and Keith, and brother Carter (9) also went on the trip.


Archie McIntyre from Cloughmills also joined the trip, along with his family (Ashley Kirker, Tyler McIntryre and sister Demi McIntyre).


Cooper Smyth from Ballymena

Cooper Smyth from Ballymena

(L-R) Carter, Natalie, Cooper and Keith Smyth from Ballymena

(L-R) Carter, Natalie, Cooper and Keith Smyth from Ballymena


The trip, which was last organised in 2015, has been brought back by the charity to accommodate children whose conditions would not allow them to face the harsh temperatures of its annual Lapland trip.

 

Instead, the very deserving children, their parent/s and sibling/s, are being accompanied by health professionals and support workers to absorb the magic of Disneyland Paris.

 

The trip has been made possible by the charity’s continuous fundraising activity including a recent abseil down the Europa Hotel and through its much-valued corporate partnerships as well as its treasured individual donors.



(L-R) Ashley Kirker, Archie and Demi McIntyre, and Tyler McIntrye from Cloughmills

(L-R) Ashley Kirker, Archie and Demi McIntyre, and Tyler McIntrye from Cloughmills

Archie McIntyre from Cloughmills

Archie McIntyre from Cloughmills


The trip to Disneyland Paris makes up the ‘Days to Remember’ element of the Lapland charity, which was introduced in 2015 to ensure all vulnerable children could experience extraordinary moments despite the challenges they and their families live with.

 

While in Paris, the 12 children and their parties will have full access to the theme parks, meals, accommodation and travel.

 


Speaking about the return of the trip, Chairman of Northern Ireland Children to Lapland and Days to Remember Trust (NICLT) Colin Barkley said:


“We are delighted to resume what is a truly memorable trip for these very deserving children who have been battling their own challenges so admirably alongside their very supportive families.

 

“Our trips are painstakingly put together to ensure the parents and families of those involved feel no pressure and are supported every step of the way by healthcare professionals and our own staff. When a child is very ill, it affects the whole family. Yes, these trips are expensive, but it is impossible to put a value on the benefits and positive impact the experience will have on the children and their families."

 

Representatives from the Northern Ireland Children to Lapland and Days to Remember Trust with health professionals and support workers.

Representatives from the Northern Ireland Children to Lapland and Days to Remember Trust with health professionals and support workers.


Mr Barkley continues: “The move to resume our Disneyland Paris trip was in part due to the efforts of our fundraisers and corporate partners. Without them, these trips, which make lasting memories for these families, would not be possible.

 

“Our goal is to give these very special children something to remember and to continue to offer this trip on a more regular basis by intensifying our activity and encouraging more organisations to support us.”

 

NICLT supporters recently raised £10,000 by abseiling down the Europa Hotel in Belfast. The charity has more events planned to help generate even more funds including a Gala Ball this month.

 


Set up 12 years ago, Northern Ireland Children to Lapland and Days to Remember Trust, takes 100 local children to Lapland every winter, chartering an exclusive flight for the experience.

 

The children benefit from a huge support team made up of Trust medics, nurses and carers, as well as parents.

 

In 2022, 100 NI children travelled to Lapland with the charity, the first flight since the pandemic.

 

Speaking about the day, Emma O’Neill from Belfast, mother to Cavan, aged nine:

 

“The trip to Lapland was beyond our expectations. My son said it was better than he could ever have imagined. It was purely magical and knowing we had a support team there to help us when we needed them made this a very stress-free trip, giving us memories that will last a lifetime.”

 


For further information on NI Children to Lapland and Days To Remember Trust please visit:


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