Thank you, for the fantastic holiday you gave our family over the Christmas and the New Year break in 2009 and 2010.
My Wish for a white Christmas in England with my Grandparents and family met all expectations where we saw plenty of snow and ice which covered many houses, fields and roads, making walking down the street very slippery! Christmas Day lunch was enjoyed at the restaurant next to where we stayed (The Premier Inn). Grandma, Grandpa and Aunty Jane joined us for a delicious lunch of roast turkey, roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, vegetables and Christmas puddings for dessert. Other activities we involved ourselves in included those such as spending time at the shops and driving around Truro countryside taking in the sights and sounds of many forests and farms with Grandpa. He showed us many areas in which he had planted trees in an attempt to increase the amount of greenery around the Cornwall countryside, where we enjoyed hiking around forests and assisting him in planting pines in an area whereby the trees would grow and create wind breaks, we did an estimate and believe Grandpa has planted in excess of 10,000 trees in his time in Cornwall. Concluding our trip to England it was a fabulous time where we experienced new activities and left us with enjoyable memories which we will have forever.
I would like to thank you for being able to organise such an amazing holiday for me and my family during the 2009/2010 New Year.
My Wish was to go snowboarding somewhere in Canada. As it turned out, I was lucky enough to be able to spend a week in Banff, and it will be a memorable week that I shall cherish for the rest of my life.
We arrived in Calgary on December 28 to a very fresh minus 10 degrees and then met up with our driver who was to take us to our hotel in Banff. Although it was dark, there was still plenty of beautiful scenery to take in on the 1½ hour drive into Banff.
The next day consisted of shopping for clothing and boarding gear, for the upcoming five days of snow-filled fun. Much to my delight I was lucky enough to be fully kitted out with a Burton Hero snowboard, Burton Cartel bindings, as well as a Burton jacket, Volcom pants, a Burton snowboard bag, as well as the necessary tools and gadgets required for the sport. I was ecstatic about the equipment that I was able to purchase with the help of Make-A-Wish as it is the exact same gear that I have been wanting to buy for the past year back home. Every time I go sking again I will think of Banff and Make-A-Wish. The next five days consisted of snowboarding, eating, sleeping and more snowboarding at the three different resorts that we went to. They were Sunshine Village, Norquay and Lake Louise. Of the three, Sunshine was definitely my favourite probably due to the vast area and how it had terrain to suit all levels of boarding ability. Also on the second day of boarding, I was lucky enough to have a five-hour private lesson with a snowboard instructor. It was a great day which greatly benefited my riding.
By the end of the week we were all exhausted, although I still didn’t want to leave. I had such a great time and would like to thank Make-A-Wish for the amazing time they organised as well as the spending money we were given which made it possible for me to own my own board.
From Mum and Dad:
Peter and I would like to add our reflections and gratitude for this amazing experience that we got to share with Tom and Sophie.
From the time we touched down at Heathrow Airport in London to our departure from Calgary in Canada we had nothing but wonderful experiences from all of the service providers. On arrival at Heathrow early on December 21 it was a chilly minus 5 degrees Celsius. Once we’d cleared customs and collected our luggage, we boarded the courtesy bus to Europcar to collect our vehicle in which to drive down to Cornwall. The friendly Europcar staff made the process very simple and in no time at all we were on our way west, heading down the M4 motorway for Cornwall in the South West of the country. We were amazed by how chilly it was and the surrounding countryside looked as pretty as a picture, blanketed in snow.
We reached Truro by late afternoon and checked into the Premier Inn at Carnon Downs, just outside Truro. We can’t say enough about how wonderfully friendly the staff at the Premier Inn were. And because we stayed there for seven days, we got to know them all very well. Can we say a particular thank you to Naomi on the reception desk and Jemma – one of the wait staff, who both went out of their way to make us both comfortable and welcome. We were given two adjoining rooms with very comfy beds – although I think I could have slept on the floor after having been awake for almost 50 hours from the time we started our Monday back in Sydney!
We had a few days to get over the jet lag and catch up with Grandma, Grandpa, my brother and his family and my sister, Jane, who drove down from Essex to be with us all. It was great fun to go Christmas shopping in the cold weather and eat hot Cornish pasties and drink hot chocolate! We had a lovely Christmas lunch at the adjoining restaurant to the Premier Inn with the family which was a truly unique experience. Grandma and Grandpa had only met Tom and Sophie once before, back in 2005 when they were much younger. They were truly delighted to see them again and spend some time getting to know their Australian grandchildren. Grandpa is a retired forester and is still planting trees around the Cornish countryside at the tender age of 83! When we get together as a family we always try and plant some commemorative trees which we again did this time.
The week in Truro went all too quickly and it was soon time to say our goodbyes and travel back to Heathrow on Monday 28th to catch our flight to Calgary. The weather conditions were still icy but the roads were clear and I think we were one of the few hire cars that were returned to Europcar that week without any bumps or dings in it!
The 10-hour flight to Calgary brought us in during the late evening and we were welcomed at the airport by the lovely Sarah from the local Make-A-Wish Affiliate. After a brief introduction she bundled us into the Airporter Mini Van driven by Frank who drove us capably through the snow up to Banf – a drive of about 1½ hours. It was just possible to make out the Canadian Rockies either side of us as we drove up the valleys. As we drove up the main street of Banff we were knocked out at how pretty it looked late at night with all the Christmas lights on and snow covered streets. We checked into the Fox Hotel which was gorgeous – complete with roaring log fire in foyer and steaming spa! The staff were wonderful, and the manager had even left his treasured guitar in our room for Tom to play, whilst we were there. We were knocked out by everyone’s friendliness and hospitality. We had a suite of luxurious rooms which were beautifully appointed and plasma screens in both bedrooms – much to the kids’ delight!
Next day we wandered into town and bought snow jackets and pants for the kids. The post-Christmas Sales were so good that we bought Tom a Burton Snowboard and bindings with the Make-A-Wish spending money – something he’s been dying to buy since boarding in the Australian Snowy Mountains last winter. Tom was really stoked about his purchases and felt super cool in his new gear! Sophie too looked really neat in her matching jacket and pants. These ski gear purchases will serve as a great reminder of a fabulous holiday – every time they use them in the years to come.
We then headed off to the Inns of Banff to organise the Ski Hire. Again, everyone was super helpful when they learnt who we were and had the three of us kitted out with skis and poles in no time.
The next day the lovely Tracey Gardner from the Caribou Ski School drove us up to Lake Louise and gave us each a skiing lesson. What a lovely lady! She was particularly interested in how the kids were doing with their Cystic Fibrosis as she has a sister-in-law that also suffers from this disorder. We had a wonderful afternoon with her and by the time she dropped us back at the hotel we were all exhausted from our day in the snowfields! The next day we caught the bus back up to Lake Louise to meet the Club Ski Group for our three days of lessons. The guys were terrific and took us on some wonderful runs and honed our existing, rusty skiing skills! I was a beginner so took it fairly slowly and was soon in agony with stiff legs and hips!
Luckily, the spa pool at the hotel was a lifesaver. At the end of each day we went for a soak in the 40 degree Celsius spa and soaked our aches and pains away…. Sheer bliss!!
Each day we went to a different ski field – so we also got to visit Norquay and Sunshine – the latter being our favourite. To get to the ski fields at Sunshine, you had to take a 20-minute gondola ride to reach the ski lifts which was simply stunning. The snow was metres thick and the scenery breath-taking. Temperatures were around the minus 5 to 10 – so just bearable!
Our four days of skiing with Club Ski culminated in a dinner on the Saturday night at a local restaurant which was a wonderful way to finish off. We met some lovely people in Canada and are hoping to reciprocate the hospitality if any of them come visiting downunder!
Sadly, our week was over too quickly (again) and before we knew it Jean Pierre the Airporter mini bus driver was taking us back to Calgary airport. Imagine our surprise and delight when, on checking in to the Gate Lounge, we were told that Sarah at Make-A-Wish had organised for us to have an upgrade on the three-hour flight from Calgary to Los Angeles!! Sophie was beside herself with excitement at traveling Business Class as there were only six of us in this section of the plane. The seats were much wider and the personal service for dinner that night was wonderful. It was the icing on the cake after the best holiday ever!
Could we please also convey grateful thanks to Make-A-Wish for the tremendous amount of time and effort that it must have taken to pull all of this together. Peter and I feel humbled when it comes to thanking your wonderful organisation for this truly unique experience which none of us will ever forget. The word “thank you” seems so inadequate when we think of the detail involved in making a trip like this happen.
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Make-A-Wish® Australia grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy.