Hartlepool boy heads to Heathrow for annual Dreamflight holiday to Florida
A schoolboy from Hartlepool has joined a group of children heading off on a charity holiday to Florida.
Isaac Ateyo, 12, was pictured at Heathrow Airport today with pop singer Una Healy ahead of the annual Dreamflight adventure to the USA.
Nearly two hundred sick, recovering and disadvantaged children will go on the charity-funded holiday, where they fly on a specially-chartered British Airways flight
The passengers were chosen to join the holiday, now in its 32nd year, by doctors and medical experts, having battled with serious illness, disability and trauma.
Isaac, who won a Child of Courage prize at the Best of Hartlepool awards in 2012, has an auto-immune deficiency which leaves him suffering from severe allergies and asthma.
When Isaac was six weeks old, mum Clare noticed her boy was suffering from a persistent wheeze.
At two, he was diagnosed with chronic lung disease and has a lot of his time in and out of hospital for treatment.
On the holiday, he and the other children will visit a host of attractions, including SeaWorld, Disney World and Universal Studios.
Speaking at the departure, former Saturdays singer Una said: "It is a pleasure to be part of such an inspiring event at the British Airways hangar this morning.
"Dreamflight does amazing work and it's great to meet the children, hear their stories and see the excitement on their faces.
Sign up to our daily newsletter
"I'm sure they'll have a trip to remember."
More than 5,800 children from across the country have been involved in Dreamflight holidays since the first trip in 1987, with the charity needing to raise around Â£500,000 each year to fund the experience.
For many, it has been their first time abroad and also gives them a chance to have a holiday without their family.
The young passengers are accompanied by nearly 100 doctors, nurses and physiotherapists throughout the trip.
An army of volunteers, including Darth Vader, his Stormtroopers, the Air Cadet National Marching Band and British Airways' cabin crew and pilots were at Heathrow to see the children board the Boeing 747.
British Airways captain, Andy Raynes, who will be one of the chaperones for the trip, added: "I'm incredibly excited for my ninth Dreamflight trip.
"It's a huge honour to work with the team and seeing the reaction of the children at the departure and throughout their trip will be incredibly rewarding.
"Each year it's astounding to see how their confidence grows as the trip progresses.
"It'll be a magical experience that I'm sure the children won't forget."