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In December 2016, the Belmond Northern Belle was converted into the Santa Express and transported almost 300 very special passengers, including around 100 very special children, on a magical journey in search of Santa. When the sleigh bells were heard, everyone knew it was time to disembark to board our special coaches for the search for Santa at his secret location – Santa’s Retreat!

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Welcome to When You Wish Upon a Star

Dream making for sick children...


When You Wish Upon a Star has a simple mission, to grant the Wishes of children living with a life threatening illness, aged 2-16 years. Our Wishes have the power to transform the lives of the children and families we work with and since 1990 we have proudly granted over 16,500 Wishes across the UK.

Some children wish to be a fairy princess or soldier for the day, meet celebrities or sporting heroes that range from Lionel Messi in Barcelona, Taylor Swift, Mary Berry and others Wish for a laptop or IPad to keep in contact with their friends and family whilst in hospital. Others wished for a day at the Grand Prix or have their own Princess/ Super Hero Parties.  Our most popular Wishes remains the exciting opportunity to swim with dolphins and meet all their favourite characters in Disneyland.

In addition to our Wishes throughout the year, we also organise a number of days out and treats for the children like our incredible Harry Potter-themed trips on-board the beautiful Belmond Northern Belle train, where characters entertain the children on their journey with weird and wonderful magic, flying broomsticks, props and costumes, keeping them amazed and entertained all day.

Each December the charity charters two aircrafts from Titan Airways enabling hundreds of children to swap hospital beds for sleigh rides transporting them away from appointments, treatments and injections to the magical winter wonderland of Lapland on board our Santa Express flights. In addition we charter the Northen Belle train to take children from across the Lincolnshire Region on a magical trip to a UK winter wonderland  and we also host a wonderful winter wonderland weekend at Center Parcs for the chldren from across the North West Region.

We believe every child deserves to smile and with your support we can provide time away, giving children and their families something to look forward to through times of uncertainty and often financial as well as emotional strain. Wishes allow the family to put their child’s illness on hold as they have fun and create precious memories.

Every donation large or small brings a seriously ill child’s Wish closer to being granted and there are many ways you can help by joining in one of our events, supporting us through your community group or school, volunteering or becoming one of our corporate partners.