CHILDREN from a Worthing special needs school took the trip of their dreams after a leading airline invited them on board a festive flight.
Palatine School, based in Palatine Road, took 25 of its pupils to Gatwick Airport, where Thomas Cook Children’s Charity had arranged tickets for the “Flight of Dreams”.
The experience included an hour-long flight around the UK in a Thomas Cook Boeing 747, with a special appearance from Father Christmas and a gift from his grotto at the end of the day.
The day, which saw 136 children from schools across the country attend, also featured an appearance from Britain’s Got Talent, 2009, finalist Stavros Flatley, who entertained the children as they checked in.
Olivia Watt, six, said: “It was really, really fun and Santa landed on the roof so he could come and meet us! My favourite part was seeing the clouds.”
Aston Telford, also six, added: “My favourite part was seeing the fields through the window.”
The children at Palatine have waited more than a year for the festive flight, after their invite last year was cancelled because of the snow.
Teacher and group leader Rosemary Needs said the trip would have been the first time the majority of the children would have ever been on a plane.
“It is a fantastic opportunity for these children, and we are very privileged to have been invited,” she said. “Many of these children’s parents could not afford to take them abroad so it is a great experience for them.”
Rosemary added: “I think the children really got a lot out of it – even the children who are in wheelchairs, because the sensory experience of the noise and vibration would be completely new to them.”
Thomas Cook Children’s Charity has been running the “Flight of Dreams” scheme since it was set up in 2009, but the idea of the flight opportunity has been running for the past nine years.
Chairman of the charity Pete Constanti said the charity works to improve the lives of sick and disadvantaged children, and the Christmas flights are one way of doing so.
He said: “The charity is all about making the dreams of these children come true. We are just happy that we can offer this unique opportunity to these children at this special time of year.”