CHILDREN with life-threatening illnesses had an enchanting and magical Christmas in Lapland thanks to the donations of Solihull residents.
Five poorly youngsters and their families, from the borough and across the Midlands, had a whale of a time dog-sledging, meeting reindeer and building snowmen galore – making memories of a lifetime during their extra special trip.
Matt Denning set up Matt’s Mission Children’s Charity which grants extraordinary wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses and severe special needs in 2011.
He launched an appeal last year to take five families with poorly youngsters on holiday over the festive season to meet Santa in his grotto.
To collect the money he needed for the magical trip, Matt spent more than 550 hours on his feet collecting funds dressed at Robin from Batman at the Solihull Game store.
Matt said: “It was amazing, we all had a good time – the kids really love it.
“As soon as they were off the plane they were building snowmen and throwing snowballs – it was really worthwhile and I think I’m going to do it again next year.
“Just to see them there was lovely, from the moment we got there they were all smiling.”
Matt added when they got off the plane they went on a husky ride across a frozen lake to see Santa in his grotto along with all his elves.
On the night before they went they stayed in a hotel near the airport. Matt used the funds he had raised and bought the childtren and their siblings more than 100 gifts to open.
He said a few of the parents got rather emotional because they never knew when their child would need to go back to the hospital so the reality of the trip really sank in.
“They nearly live at the hospital so it was a dream come true for some of them as they never thought it would be possible,” Matt said.
He added since appearing in The Solihull Observer lots of people had recognised him when he was out on collections and had even approached him to say how well he was doing and to keep up the good work.
“It has really helped me raise awareness – hopefully this will continue.”
Matt said he will be spending 47 hours a week for the next month – doing 35 collections in Solihull as part of his mission to raise another £10,000.
The money will go towards opening a charity shop with a sensory lighting and play area inside.
“The dream is to set up a kids kingdom where children can go before and after hospital to spend time with their family as well as others in similar situations,” Matt said.
“There is not anywhere their siblings can go and come together and often they are the ones that get left at home.”
Visit www.mattsmission.co.uk for more or to support Matt’s cause.