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Ilford child carers jetted to meet Father Christmas

PUBLISHED: 10:11 18 December 2018

Sianie visits the captain of the plane. Picture: David Dyson

Sianie visits the captain of the plane. Picture: David Dyson

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Nine children who are always caring for others got taken on a trip of a lifetime when they were flown to meet Father Christmas in the North Pole.

Sianie, second left and Aidean  far right with dad Michael met Mr and Mrs Claus. David DysonSianie, second left and Aidean far right with dad Michael met Mr and Mrs Claus. David Dyson

Redbridge young carers, who are supported by Barnardo’s Wellbeing Hub, in Granville Road, Ilford, were whisked away to meet the big man in red on Tuesday, December 11, courtesy of United Airlines.

The children were told to meet for a breakfast event in Hounslow and when they got there they were met by 75 children from other branches of Barnardo’s who were told the same thing.

The group was then transported to Heathrow and jetted on a Boeing 767 to join Father Christmas and his elves in their grotto for an afternoon of festive fun.

It is the second time United Airlines, which has been running the festive initiative in the US for more than 25 years, has chosen Barnardo’s for the yuletime trip and many of the children selected had never been on a plane before.

Sianie visits the captain of the plane. Picture: David DysonSianie visits the captain of the plane. Picture: David Dyson

Sianie and Aidaen Ohemeng of Ilford were chosen to go on the trip by Barnardo’s and their father Michael said: “Today has been the best thing ever for Sianie and Aidaen - to see so much happiness on their faces.

“They loved what United has done for them and we are really grateful to them and Barnardo’s - without Barnardo’s we wouldn’t be here.”

Lynn Gradwell, director of Barnardo’s in London, said she is grateful to United Airlines for providing the “most incredible festive experience” and a “truly memorable day”.

“The ability to fly and enjoy a short break is something that many of us take for granted, but for our children and families life does not always provide such opportunities.

“To fly away and meet Father Christmas is something most of us will have dreamed about when we were young and United has made that dream come true for these children and their families.”

Bob Schumacher, United Airlines managing director said: “We are absolutely delighted to have this opportunity to support the invaluable work of Barnardo’s here in the UK and bring some festive cheer to so many children.

“I am also proud of our London Heathrow employees who have volunteered their time to staff, fund and build this special Fantasy Flight event, giving children a day to remember.”

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