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Northern Lights trip of a lifetime

426. Karen Jones
427. Alan Johnson

A duo who inspired a team of volunteers to raise nearly £1 million to take over 500 children with life limiting illnesses on holidays of a lifetime to Lapland.

Karen Jones and Alan Johnson, both founding trustees of the Northern Lights Children’s Charity, have worked tirelessly for 28 years to provide holidays for children with life limiting illnesses. Every year they take children from the North of England, aged between 6 and 11, to experience dog sled rides, reindeers, snow-mobiles and the northern lights. They even get to visit Santa at his forest home by a frozen lake.

As the Chair, Karen works with the volunteer committee to lead business activities and planning for the future. She works directly with the local community, organisers, supporters and fundraisers to promote the charity. She coordinates all fundraising and promotional activities including presentations to local schools and organisations. The trustees originally set up the charity in memory of Christopher Johnson, Alan’s son who died from a brain tumour in 1987. Since then Alan has been the voice of Northern Lights and is the first to be found with a microphone in his hand communicating with supporters and fundraising community. In addition to his secretarial role for the charity, Alan is the Lapland trip coordinator.

Back home after the holiday the children reap the benefits of the break. The consultants recognise the children’s renewed vigour for life and a readiness to continue their fight against the diseases they suffer from. Their social skills usually improve, some lost confidence returns and there is an increase in independence. The holidays can be a useful part of the treatment of these awful illnesses and Karen and Alan are very proud to play their part. Prime Minister

David Cameron said:

“Karen and Alan have worked tirelessly for nearly 30 years to give children with life-limiting illnesses a magical trip of a lifetime at Christmas. As well as giving the children an incredible experience, they are helping to create wonderful memories for their families. I am delighted to recognise them as Points of Light this Christmas.” The children are mainly treated at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool as well as hospitals on the Wirral. They are nominated by medical staff and social workers at the hospitals, who can identify the children most in need. The 2015 trip left from Manchester airport on Saturday 19th December and will return with 20 very excited children on Wednesday 23rd December, just in time to enjoy a magical Christmas with their families with lots of stories to tell.

Karen said:

“I am delighted and honoured to receive this very unexpected award. As Chair of Northern Lights I am supported by a hard working team who have raised money to provide these very special holidays for the past 28 years. It is amazing to be recognised by the Prime Minister by being awarded with a Point of Light.”

Alan said:

“The holidays provided by Northern Lights give the children an opportunity to forget, albeit for a short while, about their health problems. Something about the time spent in Lapland seems to give them renewed strength to carry on fighting their own particular illnesses. Being awarded a Point of Light is a great honour and one I could not have achieved without the help of the whole committee of Northern Lights.”

The daily Points of Light award recognises outstanding individual volunteers - people who are making a change in their community.

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