The youngsters are from Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Crumlin in Dublin, and this is the twelfth year that airline staff have organised a festive day out for a group of young patients along with their parents, siblings and carers. For 2012, they selected Aer Lingus Regional’s newest base – London Southend – as their destination.
The group arrived in Essex just after 11am on the Aer Lingus Regional Santa Express with Father Christmas and his helpers. A festively festooned double decker bus – kindly provided by First Group – whisked them off to the seafront. On the way they enjoyed their first taste of Southend - a tub of the town’s favourite Rossi Ice Cream – whilst doning their Santa hats and reindeer antlers, provided by Sancto.
Arriving at the seafront, the youngsters took the train up the world’s longest pleasure pier to visit the new Cultural Centre. Once there, Father Christmas spent time with each of the children, handing them their presents whilst the rest of the group enjoyed entertainment from magician Don Simpson.
After the train ride back down the pier it was straight into Feelgoods Pizza, Pasta, Play at Adventure Island for a delicious, buffet lunch, before the bus ride back to London Southend Airport. On arrival there was one final surprise – a teddy bear for each of the children, a gift from the locally founded TLC Appeal (Teddies for Loving Care) presented to each of them by some TLC volunteers, some in Ted costumes, along with a 5ft tall ‘teddy bear’!
London Southend Airport Managing Director Alastair Welch says “We are absolutely delighted that Aer Lingus picked London Southend – out of its many destinations - for its annual Santa flight. We really enjoyed welcoming the group here and showing them a fantastic Essex day out. Of course none of this would be possible without the very kind assistance that has been given by the First Group, Feelgoods Restaurant, Southend Council, Rossi Ice Cream, Sancto and Don Simpson. We’d like to thank them for helping us make this a truly special day out for the children.”
Geraldine Regan, Deputy CEO and Director of Nursing at Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin said that “Having a child with a serious illness puts a lot of strain on families, particularly at this time of year. The Aer Lingus Regional Santa Express is a truly magical fun day out for the children and their families. I would like to sincerely thank all of the staff and volunteers from Aer Lingus Regional and London Southend airport for making this day possible for the children and their families and for their on-going support to the hospital.”
Aer Lingus Regional, operated by Aer Arann’s, Liam Lalor said “The company and employees look forward to the annual Aer Lingus Regional Santa Express each year. Now in its 12th year, the Aer Lingus Regional Santa Express is an important flight in our annual schedule. We are delighted to fly children and their families on the Santa Express to ensure they see Santa on time and give him their Christmas list.”
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