BRINGING joy to seriously ill children is the driving force for a charity named the overall Champion Team of the Year in the 25th anniversary Trinity Mirror/ScottishPower Your Champions awards.
Children’s charity Northern Lights, based in Neston, was triumphant at the gala awards event at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Chester on Friday night.
Having already won the Ellesmere Port prize, the team also took the overall Team of the Year prize, beating off its counterparts from the Chester, Flintshire, Wirral, Runcorn & Widnes and South Cheshire areas.
Karen Jones, chairman of Northern Lights, said: “It’s absolutely wonderful news, we were so excited to win. We’re 25 years old this year and it’s the first thing we’ve ever won as the Northern Lights charity.
We’re only a small charity so it’s really nice that the recognition is there, not just for us but for all the people and groups doing good work. We thoroughly enjoyed the evening, it was just wonderful.”
The charity was formed 25 years ago to give youngsters with a life-threatening illness the chance to go on holiday to a luxury resort in Lapland and meet Father Christmas.
It was set up in memory of Alan Johnson’s five-year-old son, Christopher, who developed a brain tumour but sadly passed away. The charity continued from there.
The annual trip is made in December and the team takes 12 children aged six-11, along with two nurses and four adults.
An average trip costs £20,000 so funds are raised throughout the year by supporters of the charity.
The group of nine volunteers on the committee were nominated for the team award.
Alan said: “Children come from around the north west and North Wales. Doctors from Alder Hey and Manchester children’s hospital refer the children who have a life-threatening illness.
“We try and take 12 children away each year. As this year is our 25th anniversary we are taking 24 children to find Santa Claus.
“We stay just north of the Arctic Circle for four or five days. They get to do lots of activities such as dog sleigh rides, reindeers and snow mobiles, as well as hoping to see the Northern Lights in all its glory.
“It costs £2,800 to pay for two children and one adult. Lots of people raise the money so it wouldn’t be possible without them. We rely on the public’s generosity.
“We are all volunteers so every penny goes to the children.
“The biggest thing is the kids forget about their illness and enjoy themselves. They come back different children with a positive outlook and optimistic about their treatment.
“We get pleasure from seeing the children happy, it brightens up their lives a bit.”
Northern Lights stages an annual charity ball, and this year’s black-tie event is on November 30 at Thornton Hall. Tickets cost £39.50, available from Karen Jones on 336 2515.