Children receiving treatment at the Children’s Cancer Unit at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children were greeted by Santa and some of his furry friends when they arrived at the Grotto at Belfast Christmas Market today.
Five local children got to meet one of Santa’s most important helpers, Dixie, who will be pulling his sleigh on Christmas Eve. The visit was facilitated by the Children’s Cancer Unit Charity who are the hosts and beneficiaries of all funds raised at this year’s Santa’s Grotto at the Market.
Felix Mooney, Chair of the Children’s Cancer Unit Charity said: “We are thrilled to be hosting Santa’s Grotto for the second year running at Belfast’s Christmas Market, and to have some of Santa’s reindeers take time out from their busy schedule to show these children around. This festive donation gives us the perfect opportunity to promote the work of both the charity and the Children’s Cancer Unit itself, as well raising vital funds to help provide the highest quality care for children with cancer in Northern Ireland.
“Last year we raised an overwhelming amount which went towards securing two newly built isolation rooms for the unit. We are really grateful to the team at Market Place for inviting us back, and we hope that every family that visits Santa with us will have an exciting and enjoyable experience.”
Allan Hartwell, Christmas Market Manager, welcomed the charity to the Market:
“We are always keen to support local charities and this year we are delighted to again welcome the Children’s Cancer to our festive village. We’ve pulled out even more stops for Santa and his many helpers, and have commissioned a local designer to create a magical Narnia-themed winter wonderland grotto to enchant and delight all our young visitors. It really will be a sight to behold!
“The charity carries out vital work to provide care for children with cancer and blood disorders and we hope that even more people will come along to visit Santa at the Market and support the charity at the same time. Since our very first grotto at the Market, the charities involved have raised tens of thousands of pounds, enabling them to continue with their great work. We’re delighted to keep playing our part and we are continually so impressed by what a unique Santa experience each charity creates.”
This year’s market has a special addition thanks to the Fairy Door Company who have designed a fairy trail throughout the market, leading to Santa’s Grotto. They also visited the Children’s Cancer Unit to present gifts to some of the children before they set up in the city centre.
Niamh Sherwin Barry, Chief Storyteller from the Irish Fairy Door Company added:
“When we first came up with the idea of our little fairy doors, it was primarily to promote imagination and magic in children’s lives again. We felt, and still feel, very passionate about going back to grass roots and giving the child the tools to create their own magical world. It was when we started getting feedback from parents of sick children who needed that little extra bit of magic that we realised the potential power of having a magical friend living with you. It is very humbling for us to think that our little doors can make a difference out there with children and families who need it the very most. When we were invited to visit the Children’s Cancer Unit, we were delighted and honoured.”
The Children’s Cancer Unit Charity Santa’s Grotto will be open every day for the duration of the Market with the elves and Santa working hard to generate much-needed funds for the children’s charity. For £10 children can meet Santa, receive a gift and have a professional photo taken to capture the moment.
Lord Mayor Alderman Brian Kingston joined us when the children visited the Grotto. See what he thought here (1:30) : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=drk8gLvk-EM&t=175s