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Saturday, 19 April 2014

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Santa Express at Lakeside and Haverthwaite railway

THE sound of children’s laughter filled the air this weekend, as families took a tinsel-laden train-ride through a winter wonderland.

Every year, the Santa Express provides a Christmas treat for children with physical disabilities, learning difficulties and special needs.

The special trip on the Lakeside and Haverthwaite railway saw the youngsters unwrapping presents, being entertained by pantomime performers, and meeting Santa himself.

But this year, there was an added sprinkling of “magic dust” added to the festivities as, for the first time in years, snow fell during the journey.

Julie Beswick, who helped fund-raise for and organise the event, said: “It was like magic. The kids were so excited, they couldn’t believe it, it was absolutely fabulous.

“Some of the children jumped off, they were having snowball fights, and it was so picturesque, it was fantastic.

“It was such a beautiful festive event, the snow just made it, completely topped it off.”

The day was made extra special as the children were accompanied by their whole families.

This meant around 220 people, including six helpers, witnessed the Christmas cheer on the special snow ride. Parents tucked into mince pies and sherry, while the children were entertained by Santa and his helpers.

Every family received a special goodie-bag filled with crackers, tinsel, chocolates and sweets, and every child was given a special gift.

Christmas carols were played through the carriages, and the youngsters and their families joined in for a festive sing-along.

Mrs Beswick said: “The whole thing was quite magical. The presents were absolutely fabulous, everybody helped everybody, it was absolutely incredible.

“Bringing family together is very important. Family life will crumble if you don’t stay together. You have to think about the siblings of the children with disabilities. These children play with them, they speak for them, they defend them, they fetch and carry for them, they’re just as important as the child with the disability, and its great to see them having a day out and having fun all together.”
In true testament to this, Mrs Beswick sends special thanks to her grandson, Joe Wood, who spent the night before the event helping pack over 100 goodie-bags with a broken arm.

On the day itself, also his 13th birthday, he chose to help out on the trains and spend time with his sister Katie, 10, who suffers from autism.

Mrs Beswick also thanked her helpers on the day, Maria Jepson-Leach, Lucy Rowland, Marion and Ray Barker, Gemma Wooder, and Hannah Miller. She gave another special mention to Jean and Debbie Valentine, and Pauline Jackson, who played a major part in the fund-raising for the yuletide event.

She also paid tribute to businesses across Furness who played their part in this year’s successful event.

Organisers of next year’s Santa Express are already appealing for support and funding for the 2010 event. Anyone who wishes to make a donation is asked to contact Julie Beswick on 01229 825 305.

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