Barnsley youngster enjoys flying Santa visit

Lily Atkinson meets Santa Claus on the flight from Leeds Bradford Airport.
Lily Atkinson meets Santa Claus on the flight from Leeds Bradford Airport.
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children were on a high when they were flown across the skies of Yorkshire on a special Santa flight as a magical treat for the courage and bravery they have showing fighting serious illness.

The youngsters invited on the specially-chartered plane were selected by charities and hospitals across Yorkshire as a festive surprise for the way they have battled for life.

The flight and a Christmas party afterwards were put on free of charge by Ryanair and Leeds Bradford Airport.

Among the children on board was two-year-old Lily Atkinson, from Barnsley, who was joined by her sister Grace, aged four, and parents Angela, 41 and Jonathan, 42.

Lily was diagnosed with neuroblastoma in June 2011 after developing an eye infection.

Test revealed she had a primary tumour in her chest cavity which was pressing on her optical nerve.

Se was also found to have tumours down the entire length of her arms, both legs, her pelvis, on her spine and skull

The tot has endured eight rounds of chemotherapy, blood and platelet transfusions and spent the run up to last Christmas in hospital, before being allowed home on Christmas Eve.

Her mum Angela said: “She was so ill last Christmas so for Lily and Grace too to get the chance to go on the Santa flight was such a lovely treat for them and it gave us some magical time together as a family where we could forget about everything.

“All the children on the flight were so well behaved – I hope they all remember the day for a long time to come.”

Tony Hallwood, airport commercial director, said: “We wanted to ensure families in the region who may have been touched by illness or had a difficult year could have some precious quality time.”

Nicki Embleton, of Cancer Research UK, who invited winners of the charity’s ‘Little Stars’ awards, which recognises the courage of children with cancer, on the trip, said: “It was fantastic to see our Little Stars and their families having such a magical tome together.

““To see children who have been through so much enjoying themselves was very special.

“The day really felt like Christmas had come early – there was so much excitement that I’m sure everyone involved will always remember it.”

Children were entertained in the departure lounge by a magician who performed tricks, told jokes and made figures out of balloons.

Youngsters could also have their faces painted and all received free goodie bags as an extra treat.