The new chair of The Northern Ireland Children to Lapland and Days to Remember Trust, Colin Barkley, and incoming president, broadcaster Gerry Kelly, have vowed to continue the legacy of the charity’s late founder, Jack Rodgers MBE, as they announced details of the charity’s next trip to Lapland on 17 December 2019.
The Northern Ireland Children to Lapland and Days to Remember Trust (NICLT) fundraises to fulfil the dreams of terminally ill, life limited and deserving children by taking them to see Santa at his home in Lapland, Finland. In Northern Ireland, at any given time, there are approximately 1500 children suffering from a terminal illness or life limiting illness.
Children are nominated by health workers based throughout all of the paediatric departments and hospitals in Northern Ireland. Doctors, nurses and allied health professionals give up their own time to volunteer to ensure the children can experience a magical time of memories.
Discussing the important role that the charity plays in creating magical memories for life limited children Colin Barkley, the Trust’s newly appointed chair, said:
“Having been a trustee of the charity since it was started over 11 years ago, I am very proud to take over as chairman. Having said that, the charity’s founder, Jack Rodgers, has left very big shoes to fill!
“In the weeks following Jack’s death earlier this year, the trustees were unanimous in their belief that the charity must not only continue, but that it should also grow and prosper even further. This would be the most fitting legacy to Jack’s vision and drive which has allowed over 1100 very special children enjoy this trip of a lifetime to date.”
Mr Barkley continues: “We are already putting ambitious plans in place to widen the base of our fundraising efforts, both in the business community and on a localised basis. Fundraising is at the core of everything we do. The simple fact is that the more money we raise, the more children we can help and at the end of the day this is what we are here to do.
“We are the only charity in the world to charter a private plane for 220 to Lapland in Finland. We started with a 140-seater aircraft, increasing a number of years ago to a 220-seater, and we are keen to increase that once again to a 320-seater for December 2020.”
The charity’s new President, broadcaster and journalist Gerry Kelly, encourages people to support the fundraising efforts: “Like Colin, I have been involved with the Northern Ireland Children to Lapland Trust since it was first established over a decade ago. I was a very close friend of the charity’s late founder and chair, Jack Rodgers, and it was through Jack that I got involved. He was a great man – his enthusiasm and drive were contagious.
“The charity’s concept was, and remains, simple … to give ‘terminally ill, life limited and deserving children’ the trip of a lifetime, to meet Santa Claus, at his home in Lapland, in the run up to Christmas. Jack had a vision to make a difference and he made sure that he delivered on it. We are determined to make sure the legacy of Jack’s work continues.”
Discussing the trip to Lapland Mr Kelly** added:
“For the past few years we have been able to take the children to Santa Park in Roveniemi, the official hometown of Santa Claus on the Arctic Circle in Lapland in Finland. It is an incredible underground facility which offers just about everything the kids could wish for as well as the space outside for all of the traditional ‘snow fun’ activities.
“The fantastic fun-packed day includes reindeer and husky dog rides; mini skidoo adventures; snow mobile safari; and magic sleigh rides which are all brought in exclusively to the resort for our children. Other highlights include Mrs Claus Gingerbread Bakery; Santa’s office; Ice Gallery; Crossing the Arctic Circle; Angry Birds activity area; elf school and workshop; elves’ post office; and a private meeting with Santa Claus in his grotto! It is truly a magical day.”
The Northern Ireland Children to Lapland and Days to Remember Trust does not receive any government or national funding. It is totally reliant on donations. Trips are made possible by the generosity of many individuals and companies.
For further information on NICLT, or to make a donation to the charity, please visit www.niclt.org
MAIN IMAGE: broadcaster and journalist Gerry Kelly, the incoming President of The Northern Ireland Children to Lapland and Days to Remember Trust; Colin Barkley, the charity’s new chair; with Joshua and Isabella Doyle from Magheralin, Co Armagh.