Snow ball fights, sleigh rides and a meeting with Santa earlier this month have created magical memories for little Luton lad Mason Gibbs.
The four-year-old from Sundon Park is battling non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He was among a group of 50 courageous children who flew to Lapland, courtesy of the charity When You Wish Upon a Star (WYWUAS).
The annual trip is intended to whisk seriously ill youngsters away from hospitals and appointments to spend fun time with their families, giving them a chance to escape – even for a short while – the difficulties they face on a day-to-day basis.
Mason’s mum Rebecca, 31, was thrilled to be taking her son on such a fabulous adventure.
She said: “We were so grateful to go on this trip because it gave Mason something to get excited about. He was over the moon when we told him where he was going.” The mother-of-three added: “Ever since he was diagnosed in May last year, things have been really difficult for us as a family. It started with him not eating, breathing very fast and having a constant high temperature.
“After two days of tests, we were given the diagnosis.
“He’s had to experience very intense chemotherapy, very brutal treatment, which has stopped him from doing things other little boys do.
“But he’s been brave and cheeky the whole time. And he’s very well at the moment. He’s on a maintenance programme which will end in August 2018.”
The youngsters flew out of East Midlands Airport on the specially chartered Santa Express and sang festive favourites all the way, including Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer and Jingle Bells,
When they landed they were taken to the Magical Forest where they were greeted by mischievous elves and woodland creatures who challenged the children to snowball flights and sleigh races.
Sundon Lower School pupil Mason said: “I was most excited to see all the snow and had a snowball fight wth mummy too.”
After a busy day seeing Siberian huskies and reindeers, they were taken to a hotel for dinner and to meet Santa who gave everyone a gift.
WYWUAS fundraiser Olivia Wood said: “The trip gives children like Mason respite and time out from painful treatments to simply be a child for a day. It also gives parents a break and a chance to see their child smile, creating precious memories that last for ever.”
> It costs WYWUAS £900 for each child and his or her guardian, plus £90,000 to charter the plane. If you’d like to take part in the charity’s campaigns, email email@example.com or call 0115 9761720.