It’s a dream come true – Capital kids head for fun in Florida sun

Three teenagers from ­Edinburgh have joined a party of youngsters on the holiday trip of a lifetime. Bryce Patterson, 13, Kieron Emslie, 12, and 14-year-old Cameron Markie, were on board British ­Airways flight BA 9117 as it took off from ­Heathrow with 200 very important ­children bound for Florida.

The youngsters, who all have a serious illness or disability, are flying to Orlando with the airline and UK-based charity Dreamflight.

The children, aged between eight and 14 from all corners of the United Kingdom, were joined by Paralympic gold medallist Liz Johnson and a team of ­volunteers.

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For the last 32 years, Dreamflight has been raising funds to enable a specially chartered British Airways jumbo jet to fly nearly 200 children to the sunshine state every year, getting them away for a ten-day trip without their parents. The adventure is only made possible with support from the airline’s crew and Dreamflight doctors, nurses, physiotherapists and non-medics who care for the children around the clock during the trip.

Dreamflight patron Liz started her journey with the charity in the late 1990s, having travelled as a child herself.

She said: “As an 11 year old with cerebral palsy, my Dreamflight experience empowered me to embrace difference and opportunity with increased confidence and removed a subconscious dependence that I had on my immediate support network.

“This enabled me to unlock my potential and follow my dreams – I can’t wait to support this year’s young people in their quest to do the same with the added bonus of developing their swimming abilities.”

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Ahead of the flight’s departure, 15 volunteers were dressed in superhero outfits, while the Air Cadet National Marching Band put on a show-stopping performance.

British Airways cabin crew and pilots were also at Heathrow as the children boarded the Boeing 747 through a magical castle.

Captain Andy Raynes, who operated this flight to Orlando, said: “It’s an absolute honour and privilege to be flying Dreamflight for the tenth year running. I leave London as a pilot and arrive as a helper and chaperone, it’s a truly ­humbling experience.

“What’s even more special is to see how far the children come in such a short space of time – that’s what drives me to come back each year.”

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Dreamflight is a UK charity that changes young lives through taking children with a serious illness or disability, without their parents, on the holiday of a lifetime to Orlando, Florida.

Established in 1987 and operating annually since, Dreamflight believes that fun and joy are just as important as medical research and equipment – especially for children who perhaps can’t wait long enough for the breakthrough they need or whose illnesses and treatments have brought pain and distress to their lives.