BRAVE little Tilly Bamforth’s smile says it all.
The Slaithwaite youngster – who has endured 30 operations for a rare bowel disorder and tumour – had just come face-to-face with Santa.
And she’s done so in his own home in Lapland, along with the rest of her delighted family.
“It was just like stepping into one of those magical snow globes”, said mum Sacha. “I said to my husband Simon that if you could give a child only one holiday, this was it”.
Starlight Children’s Foundation, the UK’s leading wish granting charity for children with serious and terminal illnesses, had stepped in to fulfil the dearest Christmas wish of six-year-old Tilly.
She suffers from Currarino Triad Syndrome, an inherited congenital disease of the pelvis.
Tilly has undergone over 30 operations in her six years and has many more to come. The next, in 2013, could well last for more than eight hours.
But despite her condition she has a great, fun-loving personality and loves to help other people.
Her mum said: “Tilly loves dogs and wanted to meet the real Father Christmas and his husky dogs in Lapland.
“It was simply magical. The children all made new friends and there was no mention of illness at all during the trip.
“This trip has enabled Tilly to lead a normal few days. She has looked forward to it for nearly a year!
“She loved meeting Santa and gave the huskies a special cuddle. It has been a wonderful break for all of us and given Tilly’s sister Maisie a special treat too.”
The girls are now back at Slaithwaite CE Junior and Infant School before they break up for Christmas.
And they have been able to tell all their friends about the trip to meet the real Santa.
Each year Starlight sends a group of families to Luosto, which is a traditional Finnish resort that offers a magical Lapland experience, and Tilly and her family were able to join Starlight’s seventh annual trip in their quest to meet Santa.
The family spent a delightful three days in Lapland, where they enjoyed a magical ride through the forests on a sleigh pulled by huskies, riding on snowmobiles, meeting the reindeer and, of course, Santa and his elves.
Sacha said: “Tilly is going through a good spell at the moment, but she has to go back to Leeds General Infirmary in the New Year for a whole series of tests.
“The doctors then want to do a major operation in the summer and are talking about bringing a surgeon over from the States.”
Tilly was just three months old when her worried parents discovered a lump in her stomach and further tests revealed she had tumour on her spine.
The condition has also caused complications with her bladder and spinal cord.
Her coccyx was amputated when she was just eight months old and since then she has undergone more gruelling operations on her bowel and bladder, as well as to remove the tumour close to her spine.
A spokesman for Starlight said: “We believe every child deserves a happy Christmas and we aim to bring fun, laughter and distraction to poorly children and their families by granting magical wishes.”
To support the Starlight please visit www.starlight.org.uk