Santa delights Leeds hospice kids

Rudolph and Co. were given a rest ahead of the big night when Santa dropped in by helicopter to surprise some very special children at a Leeds hospice.

The freezing ice and snow provided the perfect backdrop yesterday, transforming the countryside around Martin House Children's Hospice in Boston Spa into a dazzling winter wonderland ahead of Father Christmas' arrival.

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And the excited youngsters watched in amazement as a huge helicopter appeared on the horizon, touching down moments later with a waving Santa, his little helper and sacks bulging with toys and presents

inside.

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The visit was arranged by aviation company Multiflight and Leeds Bradford Airport.

After landing, Santa made his way inside where he chatted with children and parents and handed out presents to the lucky boys and girls.

Sheila O'Leary, Head of Care at Martin House said the visit made a huge difference to the children

She said: "Some of the children are too poorly or find it difficult to see Santa in his grotto and it's lovely to be able to bring Santa to them and for them to experience this memorable event."

The hospice has provided family led care for children with life-threatening and life-limiting illnesses since it was formally opened by the Duchess of Kent in 1987.

Rebecca Robinson, 34, a member of the hospice's care team, brought her six-month-old daughter Eloise along for the day.

She told the YEP: "It's absolutely brilliant and makes Christmas that bit more special for the children and their families. It can be hard for some of these families at Christmas, but for them to see their children so happy is a really lovely thing."

The hospice needs to raise 4.2m every year to provide services for children and young people from across the Yorkshire region.

But mum Donna Walker, 30, whose 14-year-old son Reese first came to the

hospice when he was six, said the difference the facility made to her and her family was priceless.

She said: "Reese can relax when he's here, and when I'm here I just get to be mum, because the staff take over the nursing and I just get to play with him.

"Reese gets a smile on his face because he knows Santa is here. It's fantastic for all the kids and it really warms you up inside because for five minutes, they get to just be normal, happy children."

* For more details about Martin House, visit: www.martinhouse.org.uk

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