There was Christmas magic in the air for 4 year-old Leon Hetherton and his sister Ellie (11) from Powerstown Way, Clonmel on Saturday as an Aer Arann Regional flight took to the skies from Dublin Airport on a special visit to see Santa.
Leon, a patient at Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin was one of a group of children from the hospital to take part in the Santa flight courtesy of Aer Arann Regional.
The children, along with their parents and hospital staff, travelled by Garda escort to Dublin Airport where they were greeted by a crew of Santa’s little helpers who looked after them on a dedicated flight to Santa’s mystery location.
Sarah Benson, Communications manager of the The Children’s Medical and Research Foundation said it was a magical experience for the children. “All of the kids were wide-eyed and full of excitement throughout the day. Seeing the smiles on their faces is what this experience is all about. I’d like to sincerely thank all of the staff and volunteers from Aer Arann and Kerry Airport for making this day a dream come true for these children”.
Aer Arann’s Liam Lalor, who has helped to organise the annual Santa flight for 10 consecutive years said, “We were delighted to do the annual Santa flight again this year for Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin, which is such a worthy cause. I’d like to thank all of the Aer Arann staff and volunteers who held numerous fundraising events recently to ensure this year’s flight was a success.”
Cheers of excitement erupted as the children boarded the flight when Mrs. Claus arrived on the ramp, waving to everyone from the top of a bright red fire engine. She boarded the flight with the children, who all wore Santa hats and had their faces painted.
Before long the cabin was filled with song as the children and crew sang Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer and Jingle Bells for a Christmas carol sing-along at 12,000 feet.
As the plane touched down the mystery location was revealed as Kerry Airport, where Santa was waiting to meet the children in his festive Grotto and to give them presents donated by Aer Arann staff.
It was fun and games the children who received festive treats and entertainment by a magician and balloon modeller, compliments of Kerry Airport. The parents, meanwhile, were treated to mulled wine and mince pies.
After several hours of Christmas fun it was smiles all round as the children boarded the flight back to Dublin, along with Santa who accompanied them home.
The highlight of the flight for many children was a visit to the cockpit to meet the Captain Christian Forde, who presented each child with an Aer Arann Regional VIP identity card as a reminder of the day.
To mark the occasion, staff from Our Lady’s Hospital for Children’s Hospital, Crumlin presented a special medal to staff from Aer Arann and Kerry Airport.