British Heart Foundation partner Airbus takes children battling heart disease on a festive flight

18 December 2017        

Category: Fundraising

Leading aircraft manufacturer Airbus teamed up with us today, as part of our Christmas Appeal. The Bristol-based business hosted a Christmas party and flight with Santa for local children living with a congenital heart defect.

Morris Family about to board BHF & Airbus' Santa's flight 

The festive event was designed to create unforgettable memories for children suffering from congenital heart disease and their families, many of whom had never flown before. It started with a party at Bristol Airport, with appearances from a choir and a magician, before the children boarded a fun-filled flight with Santa and his elves.

Santa's Flight

The Santa flight is part of our Christmas Appeal, which aims to raise awareness into congenital heart disease - a range of defects that affects around 4,000 UK children each year. Although recent advances mean most children diagnosed with a congenital heart defect grow up to become adults, many face the prospect of multiple surgical operations, and sadly around 400 children still die before they reach school age.

Airbus took the children on an hour-long flight across the Cornish coast. The special event was supported by Airbus employees who volunteered on the day, Eastern Airways, ACC Charter and Bristol Airport. It is one of several activities organised by Airbus as part of the company’s charity partnership with us.  For a period of two years, until December 2018, Airbus aims to raise £200,000 towards life saving heart research and fund 200 CPR kits for local schools.

A Christmas Gift

One of the chosen few to be part of the Santa flight was Bristol-based Calum Morris, aged 11. Calum was diagnosed with Truncus Arteriosus, meaning he was born without one of the main arteries in his heart. He has had to undergo four major surgeries in his short life and faces a future of repeated operations. 

Calum’s mum Nicola said: “This is the first time Calum has ever been on a large plane, so we wanted to keep it a surprise for him. After all Calum’s been through, with multiple open-heart-surgeries and weeks spent in hospital, it was heart-warming to see the huge smile on his face as he boarded the flight alongside Santa – what an incredible early Christmas present!"

Morris family aboard Santa's flight with Santa Claus

Santa's Helper

Airbus volunteer Debbie Robertson said: “I love being involved in the Airbus partnership with BHF and being able to send the children on this flight was a real privilege. It’s so rewarding to be able to do something special for these families, especially at this time of year.”

Amanda Bringans, Director of Fundraising added: "We are very grateful to Airbus for giving these children and their families a flight they will never forget. Sadly, many tiny hearts will be struggling this Christmas. But with the support of the public and partners like Airbus, we can find new ways to support families who have to go through the heartache of bringing up a child with congenital heart disease in Bristol and across the UK.”

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