THE magic of Christmas well and truly arrived at the Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice when a team of National Lottery winners from across the Province visited with toys.
Mary Hamilton, Belfast, Anne Canavan, Derry, Stephen Inglis, Belfast, Clare and Clifford Marks, Newtownabbey – who have won a staggering £14.2 million between them in the past three years – surprised the children when they arrived with Santa Claus in a sleigh pulled by two real-life reindeer at the Hospice in Glengormley.
Santa and his Lottery-winning ‘elves’ spent the afternoon sharing out toys and Christmas gifts amongst the children.
“This has been an absolutely terrific and very rewarding day,” said Mary Hamilton from Belfast, who won £12.9 million on EuroMillions in November 2014.
“The Children’s Hospice is an organisation that is very close to my heart so to be able to be here today to give gifts to the children and see how happy the Christmas festivities have made them really does mean the world.
“I think I speak for myself and all the lottery winners here today when I say it’s been very fulfilling,” she added.
Inventor Anne Canavan, who won £1 million and a luxury holiday in the EuroMillions raffle in September 2015, swapped her much–loved inventions for Santa’s, as she helped give out his toys to the excited children.
“All of Santa’s little helpers and myself, we’re all really really pleased to be here today at the NI Children’s Hospice, on a really special day,” said Anne. “The work that all the nurses, doctors and volunteers do here at the Children’s Hospice is incredible.
“The whole day was about the children and bringing excitement and joy to their faces at such a wonderful time of the year! I really do hope they enjoyed it.”
Stephen Inglis, a Belfast binman who shared a £70,000 National Lottery scratchcard win with his work colleague Frank McCormick in August 2016, added: “I’ve found it an absolute pleasure visiting the children and seeing their faces when they saw Santa and the reindeer – it’s been brilliant.”
The Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice is the only service of its kind in Northern Ireland that cares for children and young people with very complex or life-limiting needs.
Staff nurse Rosie Hanna said: “It’s a lovely time of the year and we’re especially grateful to people who come up and make donations to the Children’s Hospice.
“It’s been lots of fun to have the lottery winners here today with Santa and his reindeer and we’re grateful for that so we’d like to say a big thank you for the visit and for all the lovely presents,” added Rosie.
To find out more about Northern Ireland’s Children’s Hospice and the work they do visit www.nihospice.org/childrens-hospice