THREE-year-old Thomas Hale had his Christmas dream come true.
He was one of 90 children taken to visit Father Christmas in Lapland with the When You Wish Upon a Star charity.
Thomas was just eight-months-old when he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer after his mum, Elizabeth, took a photograph of him on her new phone.
It revealed a glare in his eyes and a specialist at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary confirmed little Thomas had the rare condition retinoblastoma.
Now after gruelling chemotherapy Thomas is in remission – and he and Elizabeth were invited on the Santa Flight to Lapland last week.
Elizabeth, of Savile Park, Halifax, said: “When they called to say they wanted us to go I was in tears – it was such a great opportunity for Thomas.
“We flew from Humberside Airport and there were about 200 people, 90 of them children who were poorly.
“I always thought it would be emotional for me, for some of the children this could be their last Christmas.
“The organisers thought of everything, they made it magical and wonderful for us all.
“When we got there we went to an enchanted forest and Thomas just loved it. He was neck deep playing in snow – there were husky rides and reindeer rides, people could go on snow bikes and dash through the snow.
“Then we went to a hotel and Father Christmas came to see all the children – the children were so excited.
“We went to the Arctic Circle and saw Santa’s Post Office and to the North Pole.
“It was emotional, there were children like Thomas who were in remission, but there were children who for them this was their last chance – it was upsetting.
“When we got back to the airport there was a choir and the celebrities who came with us were waiting to say goodbye.
“It cost the charity £80,000 to charter the flight and they thought of everything, they couldn’t have done more for us.
“It was just a wonderful experience.”
It was back in 2009 Elizabeth and husband Neil, who also have a daughter Beth, took Thomas to HRI where Dr Tony Aguirre, a consultant eye specialist, diagnosed the tumours.
“I remember the doctor saying Thomas has tumours behind both eyes, there was a massive worry he’d lose sight in both eyes,” Elizabeth added.
“Thomas is one of the rare children who has still got both eyes and the quick diagnosis and the treatment he’s had at Birmingham save his eyesight.
“They’ve done a fantastic job.
“We’re still going to Birmingham every three months – we’ve just reached two years with no treatment which is fantastic.Stability wise he’s fine, you wouldn’t know looking at him that he’s lost some vision in his left eye. He’s had something like 24 general anaesthetics so we’re trying to wean him off that when he goes for tests.
“And they lost us we can now transfer his care from Birmingham to Leeds now he is in remissions so he’s closer to home. He’ll still need check-ups as he’s at risk of other types of cancer, but he’s recovered well.”
Thomas and Elizabeth were joined by actress and TV presenter Denise Welch, Holby City actress Lauren Drummond, Emmerdale’s Grace Cassidy, Shameless actress Kelli Hollis and Emmerdale actresses Alicia Eyo, and Sophie Powells.
For more details on the charity visit www.whenyouwishuponastar.org.uk