Little boy’s dream of seeing Santa in Lapland at Christmas is ruined after travel firm called to cancel at MIDNIGHT

  • Chris Hopkinson was due to take son Matthew on dream trip to Lapland
  • But a mechanical fault with the plane meant the 900 trip was called off at the last minute
  • Chris was forced to tell his devastated son they would not be going after all
  • Says companies ‘selling dreams to children’ should have a back-up plan




A five-year-old’s dreams of meeting Father Christmas at his home in Lapland were crushed just hours before he boarded a flight for the trip-of-a-lifetime. Matthew Hopkinson was only told on Saturday that he and his father Chris were off to meet Santa and his reindeer first thing on Sunday. But when he woke up the next morning, his devastated parents were forced to tell him they would not be going to Lapland after all, after they received a call just after midnight to tell them the trip was off.

Chris and his son Matthew should have been in Lapland visiting Father Christmas on Sunday, but instead were at home after the trip was cancelled at the last minute, leaving the little boy and his family devastated

The family had spent months carefully planning the surprise for Matthew, starting with asking him to write to Santa asking to visit. It was only on Sunday that Matthew received this letter telling him about the trip

‘It’s definitely ruined Christmas,’ Chris told MailOnline. ‘We got a call at 12.30am saying the plane had technical issues and we wouldn’t be going.

‘How do you explain to a five-year-old? He is absolutely devastated. We all are.

‘I think that when you are selling dreams to children you should have a back up plan.’

Planning for the 900 trip began months ago, when the family suggested Matthew, of south-west London, write a letter to Santa asking if he could come to visit. His two older sisters had already been on the magical holiday, which sees children travel through the snow in a sleigh to meet Father Christmas at home.

But they decided not to tell Matthew he was off until the last minute, because they didn’t want him getting over-excited ahead of the big day. So, less than 24 hours before they were due to take off, Matthew discovered a letter from Father Christmas, asking him and Chris to visit him at home. After spending the evening choosing warm clothes for the adventure, an excited Matthew took himself off to bed early.

Matthew took himself to bed early he was so excited, but hours later his parents received a call saying the trip was off. Despite their best efforts, they were unable to find another trip with space

They told Matthew it was a storm which meant they couldn’t go – so he wrote a letter to Father Christmas telling him not to worry, and that he hoped he would be able to visit soon (pictured)

But then Chris and his wife Svetlana got the call to say it was cancelled.

‘We spent all night up, I was even willing to drive to Manchester,’ Chris said.

‘But everything was fully booked.’

It left them with no choice but to tell the disappointed little boy they would not be going after all, deciding to say it was a bad storm which meant they couldn’t go, rather than a mechanical fault. Heartbreakingly, Matthew spent Sunday morning writing to Father Christmas, telling him not to be upset.

‘He doesn’t want Santa to worry,’ said Chris.

Canterbury Travel, which has been organising the trip for 36 years, has apologised for any upset caused

Jacqui Banham, of Canterbury Travel, which has been organising day trips to meet Santa for 36 years, said she could only apologise to the 180-or-so passengers, saying Titan Airlines had tried to find a new plane but were unable to do so in time.

‘Our only concern at the moment is about talking to our customers,’ she said, adding that everyone would be offered a refund. But Chris says it isn’t about the money, especially as he fears Matthew may have lost his belief in Santa by the time next Christmas arrives. He said: ‘For the children, it is the trip of a lifetime.

My older daughters still remember it as the best thing they’ve ever done.

‘I feel for the hundred to 150 kids who this morning were told their dreams were ruined.’

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