WHEN Harry Cooper was asked what his greatest wish in the world was, he never thought his dream to visit Santa in Lapland would come true.
But the Goring eight-year-old, who has an incredibly rare auto-immune disease, has just discovered his once-in-a-lifetime wish has been granted.
Harry was diagnosed with Juvenile Dermatomyositis (JDM) in July 2008.
The disease, which affects just three in one million children, means his immune system attacks blood vessels throughout the body, causing inflammation called vasculitis.
His mum Claire, of Goring Road, said: “Although Harry relies on steroids and lots of other medical treatment to keep the disease under control, he is called ‘Happy’ Harry by his friends as he always has a smile on his face and has been very brave coping with JDM.”
Claire, and her husband Mark, 39, applied to the Starlight Children’s Foundation, which provides wishes for children with serious and terminal illnesses, and Harry was asked to make three wishes.
His top wish was to meet Santa in Lapland.
Claire, 37, said: “Harry is so excited and it gives him something positive to look forward to and talk about.
“His condition has meant we’ve had lots of trips up to Great Ormond Street Hospital, which has been financially very difficult, so the whole family is really looking forward to this amazing trip together.”
Arundel and Barnham Lions Club is helping fund the cost of the trip, which will see Harry, his brother Jack, six, and his parents spend three nights in Lapland in December.
The Lions Club chose to support Starlight through its fund-raising activities, and raised £2,000 through a duck race, coffee mornings and collecting. The club members decided to donate the money towards Harry’s wish.
Alan Foster, president of the club, said, “The Arundel and Barnham Lions Club aims to meet the needs of the local community and we are delighted that, through our recent fund-raising efforts, we are able to support Harry’s wish.
“He has clearly been very brave during his illness and he really deserves to have his dream come true.”
Children who suffer from JDM can go into remission, but, with treatment, the condition can be controlled.
Claire added: “Because it is so rare, it’s proved very difficult to find much out about JDM.
“As a parent of a child with an illness you have to find the strength to cope.
“To know there are people who fund-raised so Harry could have his wish is very touching.”
To nominate a child for a wish, or to make a donation, visit www.starlight.org.uk