Seriously ill Gosport girl, 10, gets into Christmas spirit by meeting Santa after two weeks in hospital

DREAMS came true for a seriously ill Gosport child who experienced the Christmas magic of meeting Santa after two weeks in hospital.

Tuesday, 17th December 2019, 3:21 pm
Updated Wednesday, 18th December 2019, 7:55 pm

It has been a ‘horrific’ month for 10-year-old Hope Ayres and her family, as she spent a fortnight in hospital due to various complex health issues.

Hope’s mum Natasha Kirkby wanted to help get her into the Christmas spirit after being given the all-clear to go home, as Hope hadn’t seen any Christmas lights or decorations this year.

Natasha said: ‘We’ve been in hospital for just over two weeks, It’s been pretty horrific.

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Hope Ayres with Father Christmas Gary Walker

‘For a few days Hope wasn’t improving but thankfully because of the wonderful doctors and nurses she came out.’

Having heard of the Gosportarians’ sleigh which is making its way around the town throughout this month, Natasha got in contact with organiser Malcolm Dent to see if they could arrange to see Santa.

On their way home Natasha, Hope and Hope’s dad Stephen Ayres met with Malcolm and Father Christmas at Waitrose, where Hope was greeted with smiles and gifts during a magical meeting which made her Christmas.

‘I couldn’t wish it to go any better. She was very nervous but they knew how to treat her,’ said Natasha.

Alan Neville, Hope's mum Natasha Kirkby, her dad Stephen Ayres, and Malcolm Dent from the Gosportarians, and front Gary Walker as Father Christmas and Hope Ayres

‘It was lovely, they made her feel absolutely amazing. I started crying, it was so emotional because we have been to hell and back.’

Heathfield Special School pupil Hope was given chocolates from Waitrose, and asked Santa if he could bring a live unicorn on the big day.

According to Natasha, Hope hasn’t stopped talking about Christmas since. She refused to write a letter to Santa in hospital, but sent one as soon as she got back.

Malcolm said: ‘The utter belief that children have in the magic of Christmas as a reason for hope, anticipation and inspiration for the good is the reason we do what we do and the hours we spend doing it at this time of year, and every now and then, something comes along to touch us personally and realise just how much the simple things we do can affect others.’

He added: ‘It cost us nothing, but the joy it brought to that family brought tears to all.’