A memorable trip to see Santa for Matthew
He had tears of happiness in his eyes when he first heard he would meet Santa on a special train ride.
And yesterday Matthew Saunders was beaming with a smile which lit up a dark December late afternoon as the wait was over and the big day arrived.
The seven-year-old has cystic fibrosis, CF-related liver disease, asthma and is on the autistic disorder spectrum.
Matthew – from Saham Toney, near Watton – has to take up to 50 tablets a day as well as other medication, has physio at least twice a day and receives intravenous antibiotics as part of his treatment.
The football-loving Ashill Primary School pupil won the hearts of members of Dereham and District Round Table who heard he was too unwell to visit Santa in Shipdham when he was on the annual sleigh run in the village.
So, the Tablers agreed to pay for Matthew and his parents Ian and Chantal, sisters Natasha and Taylor and friend Jensen to meet Father Christmas on the Santa Special train from Dereham to Wymondham,
“I feel tingly!” was Matthew’s simple verdict on how he felt before getting on board.
His mum said: “Matthew is a very happy little boy who loves school and football. He doesn’t let things get him down too much and is always smiling. Cystic fibrosis does make a big impact on his life but he never complains apart from when he’s too ill to play football!
“When we told Matthew about the Round Table’s generosity, he had tears in his eyes because he was so happy and has been counting down the days till he can go on the train and see Santa. We can’t thank them enough.”
Matthew’s dad added: “It is brilliant and it takes our breath away.”
Cystic fibrosis is one of the most common life-threatening, inherited diseases which affect the internal organs, especially the lungs and digestive system, by clogging them with thick sticky mucus. This makes it hard to breathe and digest food.
Matthew was diagnosed by the new born screening process at three weeks old but as he has got older his condition has deteriorated.
Round Table secretary David Westgate said: “When I heard about Matthew I thought ‘we have got to do something for him’ and the other Tablers readily agreed. It the money we get from the community which is paying for this.”
The sleigh travels around the Dereham area in the run up to Christmas and last year they raised £4800 for local good causes.
Next Saturday they will be paying for a whole carriage for local children to be on board the train.
The remaining dates for the sleigh are tomorrowtue in Norwich Road from 6-8pm, Saturday at Tesco from 9am–3.30pm, Sunday at Tesco from 9.30am–3.30pm and on Sunday from 4–8pm on the Middlemarch Road estate. You can follow the details on Twitter @Derehamsanta or by emailing Sleigh@derehamroundtable.org.uk