Nineteen military children who have a parent serving overseas with the British Armed Forces this Christmas were all smiles as they were treated to a special VIP experience at LaplandUK in Ascot on Friday.
For the sixth year in a row ten military families spent the day exploring the enchanted forest, making toys in the elves’ workshop and meeting the big man himself, Father Christmas. The event is part of our Christmas smiles campaign to bring Christmas cheer to British Armed Forces children who will be separated from one or more of their parents over the festive season due to overseas deployments and operations.
Mum, Rachael Hulks, who attended the day with her two daughters, Jessica and Ella, comments, “My husband has been deployed since August and won’t be home until March. As well as missing Christmas he’ll also be missing both of the girls’ birthdays. By the time he gets home he will have spent 570 days away over the last three years, so it’s been really challenging for us as a family. The girls are struggling with not having him here in the run up to Christmas, so it was amazing to be able to surprise them with this magical trip to Lapland. It’s really cheered them up and they can’t wait to tell their Dad all about it.”
The families who came with us won tickets in a ballot run by the charity, with hundreds of families applying. Louise, founder of Little Troopers, said: “Christmas is all about family time and making memories, which why it’s a particularly difficult time of year for any British Armed Forces families who have someone serving away. The number of entries we’ve had this year just goes to show how many military families are still separated from their loved ones by active service. That’s why we’re so grateful to LaplandUK for giving these military families the ultimate Christmas experience.
“It was wonderful to see the children so excited and happy today. That’s what it’s all about. It was a magical and memorable day that these families will remember forever and enjoy sharing with their serving parent when they return home.”
The Christmas smiles campaign also includes tickets to local pantomimes and Disney on Ice. We will have a full round up of the smiles delivered in our January newsletter. You can sign up for our newsletter here (scroll down the page halfway to keep up to date).