With reindeer antlers and Rudolf’s famous flashing red noses on, tinsel and snow throughout the cabin and a crew buzzing with excitement, I just knew this was gonna be a flight I’d never forget. This special flight was one of four Monarch has flown this year for ‘When You Wish Upon a Star’. The charity, founded in Nottingham in 1989, organises special treats for seriously ill children all year round but the Lapland visit is one of the highlights of its calendar.
This week Lisa, our cabin crew blogger, explains what it’s like behind-the-scenes on our annual When You Wish Upon a Star flights.
Monarch has been assisting with these charter flights for more than 15 years, flying from East Midlands, Manchester, Humberside and Prestwick to Lapland (Rovaniemi) in Finland.
I think I can speak for the others when I say it’s a wonderful and very emotional trip for us cabin crew, helping children with life-limiting illnesses live their dream to meet Santa. The charity’s founder Barbara White OBE and her fabulous team work tirelessly all year, every year and we were so proud to be involved in this special day.
As we were boarding the passengers, it really hit home how poorly some of the children were. This day trip was a chance for some to forget about the routines of medication, hospital stays and grueling treatments for at least a day. To ensure the children had a fun-filled flight, the charity’s celebrity patron Jeremy Spake and our crew entertainer Marcus were on hand to create some excitement onboard.
The fun started with a huge Mexican wave by everyone, before we took off Santa-bound. The kids were hugely excited by Captain Dominic’s announcement that the elves had radioed to give us a snow report and Rudolf was looking forward to meeting them. Actually, on second thoughts, I’m not sure who was more excited Captain Dominic or the kids!
Marcus, our crew entertainer, took to the floor with coloring competitions and guessing games. He even hosted a talent show in the mid cabin for budding young stars to sing and tell jokes over the P.A. It was great to see the huge smiles and hear lots of laughter around the cabin.
Before we knew it we were on the ground in Rovaniemi. First stop was a gorgeous cup of hot chocolate with marshmallows toasted on the fire, which set us up for the next couple of hours, and a traditional Lapland welcome of blacking of our noses with coal.
The sight of a traditional sleigh with its toasty rug being pulled by majestic reindeer actually took my breath away, but I’ve gotta say it was the husky and skidoo rides that were hilarious. A firework display brought the activities to a close and then it was time to head off to the hotel for a lunch and a very special surprise. That might sound very early for a firework display but did you know there is only 5 hours of daylight in Lapland in December?
After lunch and after several loud renditions of “Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer”, the big guy in red arrived with gifts for everyone. The chuckles and giggles from the children were infectious, but for me, as a mum, it was the faces of the parents, so engrossed in lapping up every lasting, loving moment of their child’s delight to treasure forever, that brought a lump to my throat and made me cry.
Traditionally the team of voluntary paramedics who accompany the children on the trips (and work relentlessly throughout the day) gives a present to the bravest child of the day.
So you can imagine our faces when Jeremy announced that by a unanimous vote it had been decided to award ‘ParaTed’, the paramedics’ mascot of the day, to us, the Monarch crew. I can tell you, it was a real wow moment. We were all truly gobsmacked and honored. To sum up, in the words of Jeremy Spake, ‘how fabulicious’.
If you’d like to learn more about the When you Wish Upon a Star charity or would like to offer your support, please visit their website. Thanks! Lisa