Man in red brings festive cheer to sick children
SANTA was on hand to spread a sleighload of festive cheer yesterday among 100 children who will spend this Christmas Day in hospital.
Laden down with a sackful of gifts and treats, the Big Man took time out of his hectic schedule to hand out presents aplenty at Our Lady's Children's Hospital in Crumlin, Co Dublin. Board games, chalk boards and section boxes were among the gifts dispensed to his adoring fans, who had gathered from early morning at the entrance to the hospital.
Rudolf and his reindeer pals opted out of the trip, leaving driving duties to a single horse as Santa took hold of the reins.
Ten-year-old Ryan O'Connor, from Skerries, was diagnosed with a brain tumour three years ago and makes regular trips between Crumlin and Beaumont hospitals for treatment.
He only learned at the last minute of Santa's visit, and made a quick dash to the arrivals area, where he managed to land a much-prized chat with Mr Claus.
"It was brilliant meeting him, I was really excited. Santa just asked me what I'm getting for Christmas and I told him I want a surprise. I really can't decide what I want -- there are just so many things to choose from," he said.
"We didn't know Santa was arriving, so his brothers and sisters at home are going to be so jealous that he got to meet him," said his mother Lisa. "He even got his photo taken and got to hold the reins. It's the best present he could have asked for."
Hospital deputy chief executive officer, Geraldine Regan, said the visit was more than a seasonal success and clearly lifted the mood all round -- if only for a short time.
"Christmas time can sometimes be difficult for sick children in hospital," she said. "Having a child with a serious illness puts a lot of strain on families, particularly at this time of year.
"That is why coming up to Christmas we try to have some fun in the hospital."