Portsmouth children whose parents are serving abroad with the Royal Navy and RAF given magical Christmas treat

CHILDREN whose parents are serving abroad with the military this Christmas were treated to a VIP festive getaway.

Monday, 16th December 2019, 3:58 pm
Updated Monday, 16th December 2019, 8:54 pm
Kiki Tautz from Gosport pictured with her mum, Bryley. Credit: Maureen McLean Photography

Sisters Jessica, seven, and Ella Hulks, four, from Portsmouth, and nine-year-old Kiki Tautz, of Gosport, were taken to Lapland UK by military children’s charity, Little Troopers.

The girls all spent the day exploring the enchanted forest, making toys in the elves’ workshop and meeting Father Christmas.

The event was all part of Little Troopers ‘Christmas Smiles’ campaign to brighten the lives of armed forces children over the festive season.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Bryley and Kiki with Mother Christmas. Photo: Maureen McLean Photography

Mum Rachel Hulks said her children had a magical day. The 30-year-old added her husband Shane would be serving abroad over Christmas on HMS Defender.

‘Shane has been deployed since August and won’t be home until March. As well as missing Christmas he’ll also be missing both of the girls’ birthdays.

‘By the time he gets home he will have spent 570 days away over the last three years, so it’s been really challenging for us as a family.

‘The girls are struggling with not having him here in the run-up to Christmas, so it was amazing to be able to surprise them with this magical trip to Lapland.’

Rachael Hulks with her daughters Jessica and Ella Photo: Maureen McLean Photography

Bryley Tautz, whose husband Sergeant Ian Tautz is stationed in Afghanistan with the RAF until February, said the trip to Lapland UK with her daughter, Kiki, was a huge surprise.

She added: ‘She’s been really missing him and it’s particularly hard with Christmas around the corner. ‘That’s why it was such a surprise to win tickets to Lapland.

‘It’s been amazing to treat her to such a magical day out and it’s really lifted her spirits. It was also lovely for her to meet lots of other children going through the same thing.’

This is the fifth year that Little Troopers and LaplandUK have teamed up to run the special military event with 500 families entering to win tickets.

Jessica and Ella at Lapland with Little Troopers. Photo Maureen McLean Photography

Louise Fetigan, founder of Little Troopers, said: ‘Christmas is all about family time and making memories, which is why it’s a particularly difficult time of year for any British armed forces families who have someone serving away.’