Templepatrick businessman makes £20k donation after Guardian story

A BIG-hearted Templepatrick businessman has donated £20,000 to fund a festive initiative for those living with life limiting and life-threatening conditions.

Britt Megahey, Founder and Managing Director of Barclay Communications, was moved when he read about the Northern Ireland Children to Lapland and Days to Remember Trust’s decision to cancel its annual flight to see Santa in Rovaniemi, the official hometown of Santa Claus on the Arctic Circle in Lapland, Finland, because of Covid-19.

Three weeks ago the Antrim Guardian reported that the charity was determined to ensure festive magic is alive and well despite the pandemic.

The Trust, which has brought hundreds of ill and vulnerable local children to Lapland over the past 12 years, revealed that the focus this year will be on special treats that can be enjoyed at home.

Last year Girda Rupsiene and her eight-year-old daughter Urte from Randalstown had the chance to visit Santa.

It was a day to remember for just over 100 children from Northern Ireland who travelled to a winter wonderland to meet ‘the big man’.

The 2020 ‘Three Steps To Christmas’ will begin with a personal letter from Santa. This will be followed up by a video greeting from the man himself, with his trusty elves, huskies and reindeer by his side. And, finally, the chosen gifts will be delivered right to each child’s doorstep, and, if Covid regulations allow, some of Santa’s elves to help with the deliveries!

Learning of the project, Britt Megahey was so moved he decided to fund the entire initiative to support the charity’s tireless work. He was, he said, pleased to give something back after what had been a difficult year for many.

“Barclay Communications has been at the forefront of business-to-business mobile, hosted and fixed-line telecoms for more than 20 years,” he explained.

“As a telecommunications firm we have seen a significant increase in the uptake of our products and services due to the increasing demand for remote working, however our growth has been bittersweet.

“While we have welcomed new business, we have been well aware that other sectors are struggling, with charities taking a massive hit.

“We have always admired the work that the Northern Ireland Children to Lapland and Days to Remember Trust does and to hear they couldn’t fulfil their annual commitment of taking more than 100 vulnerable children to Lapland and how their hard efforts to raise funds had been met with many challenges, we wanted to do what we could to help.

“Children have been impacted drastically by the COVID-19 pandemic. Their social and sporting activities have been halted, they lost months of education and for those children with vulnerabilities their lives have taken a greater hit and we feel we have an obligation to give back to those who need it most and at a time when children should be enjoying what should be the most magical time of the year.”

Northern Ireland Children to Lapland and Days to Remember Trust’s chair Colin Barkley, paid warm tribute to the benevolent businessman.

“It’s hard to believe that our hopes and dreams at the turn of this new decade have been put on hold due to circumstances that no-one could have ever predicted and as COVID-19 played havoc with how we work, live and play, we at the Northern Ireland Children to Lapland and Days to Remember Trust were regrettably forced to make tough decisions that have seen us postpone many of our much-loved annual events.

“While these are difficult and unprecedented times, we can’t and won’t allow the magic of Christmas to be diminished for these wonderful children which is why we created the Three Steps to Christmas campaign.

“To have that funded by Barclay Communications is a real gift for us because, like all charities our fundraising efforts have been restricted.

“This generous donation from Britt Megahey will fund those 100 gifts that will go to some of Northern Ireland’s most special children.

“It will allow us to bring the magic of Christmas to these children without the pressure of wondering how we will fund our next endeavour.

“We want to thank Barclay Communications for giving these children the magic of Christmas during one of the toughest years we have experienced in our living history and we can’t wait to see the smiles on their faces.”

Gerry Kelly, President NICLT, also paid tribute to the local businessman.

“The Northern Ireland Children to Lapland and Days to Remember Trust receives no Government or Lottery funding and is totally self-funded, relying on the generosity of individuals and companies across NI who very much identify with our aims and with the type of children we support.

“Their support once again this year has been amazing and, combined with Barclay Communications’ magnificent gesture, allows us to start making ambitious plans for 2021.

“If circumstances allow, we are hoping to take an even larger group than originally anticipated to Disneyland in Paris as well as our annual trip to Lapland!”

To find out more about the charity or to donate click on https://www.niclt.org/ or follow on Facebook @childrentolaplandtrust

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