14th December 2017

'Magic feeling' for poorly children on the Santa Express train thanks to When You Wish Upon A Star charity

Youngsters with life-threatening and terminal illness are heading to Santa's Retreat on board the magnificent Northern Belle

A magical Christmas experience is underway for some of Grimsby’s most poorly children who are on board the Santa Express for a truly memorable day of festive fun.

Children with life-threatening and terminal illness are on their way to Santa’s Retreat for a once-in-a-lifetime trip organised by charity When You Wish Upon A Star.

Families from across Grimsby, Cleethorpes and Northern Lincolnshire have boarded the magnificent Northern Belle train at Grimsby station for the annual trip.

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Actress Lauren Drummond with Ashton Davis, 6, on board the Northern Belle for the When You Wish Upon A Star Trip to visit Santa

Throughout the day those, on board will be treated to Christmas entertainment, take part in carol singing, spend time with celebrities like footballing legend and Sky Sports pundit Chris Kamara, and eat like a king with a three-course Christmas meal during the train journey.

It’s a time for families to make memories to savour, especially for Grimsby mum Rachel Lowry, and her partner, Steve Taylor, who are on board with children Reece Taylor, 9, and Miley Taylor, 7.

Young Reece has sadly been diagnosed with a rare Desmoid tumour, which only two in one million people suffer with, for which there is no cure.

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Rachel Lowry, Reece Taylor, 9, Miley Taylor, 7, and Steve Taylor, of Grimsby, get settled in on the Northern Belle as its makes its way to Santa's Retreat

Reece is currently undergoing a three-month drug trial and an MRI test in January will reveal how successful the treatment has shrunk the tumour.

But for today, Rachel says today is about cherishing a memorable trip.

She said: “It’s amazing. We could never do anything like this on our own. Reece’s first words were wow.

“It’s all about making memories for him. It’s special for us.”

Reece added: “I feel excited. I had a magic feeling in my tummy, like butterflies.”

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Having fun on their way to see Santa are, from left, Richard Elwis-Drayton, George, 3, Tish Elwis, nana, Claire Elwis-Drayton, from Grimsby

Fellow Grimsby-based family, Richard Elwis-Drayton, wife Claire and son George, 3, with nana Tish Elwis, are also on their way to see Santa.

Little George has been diagnosed with tracheomalacia stenosis, a condition which affects his airways and lungs. It took the family three years to pin down a diagnosis for his condition, and the illness has caused George’s windpipe to narrow.

When You Wish Upon A Star fundraiser, Tish, said: “It means so much to make his dreams come true. The charity is amazing and to see him so happy is brilliant.

“It’s great to make the special memories while we can and it’s a special experience for us as a family.”

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Cleethorpes mum Heather Davis has come on today’s trip with ten-year-old Lilli-Rose Cotterill, who suffers with incurable kidney disease, and daughter Harmony Davis, 9, and Ashton, 6.

There is no cure for kidney disease, only ways for sufferers like little Liili-Rose to manage the condition with treatments.

Heather, said: “This is just amazing. We weren’t expecting it at all.Today we can just remember that Lilli is a little girl who loved Christmas and not an illness. We will make so many memories and I will never forget it.”

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Excited for the trip to see Santa are mum Mandy Arter, with children Riley, 12, Bana, 5, and Nana Carole Hay, from Grimsby

Lilli-Rose, added: “I love Christmas, especially Christmas morning when I wake up and jump on mum and dad’s bed.

“I want a Pug for Christmas and will ask Santa later.

“I am really excited. The train is really cool.”