THE dreams of some Donard pupils came true last month when they met their favourite Disney characters on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Paris.
The four-day trip to Disneyland was the brainchild of school principal Edel Lavery, and was funded by donations from across the district and even further afield.
Following the trip, which included sightseeing in Paris and a cruise on the River Seine, the school have extended their heartfelt thanks to the people of Banbridge and beyond for making the trip happen.
Edel Lavery from the school said, “The Governors’, pupils, parents and staff of Donard School in Banbridge want to say a big thank you to the people of Banbridge and surrounding areas who supported them in their recent fundraising drive which allowed them to organise what was a trip of a lifetime for pupils.”
The trip was something the Scullion family from Gilford said they would never have dreamt of being able to organise themselves.
“Up until Paris Christopher had never been on a plane,” said his mum Bernie. “We had gone to Blackpool on a few occasions but in recent years, as he has grown up, we haven’t really been able to go anywhere as it is quite a big job.
“This trip was just brilliant from start to finish - everything the children needed was there and I, as a parent, felt very relaxed knowing we had all that support with us.”
Bernie said she is grateful to everyone who made the trip possible.
“I would like to add my thanks to those who contributed to Donard’s Disney Fund - but my biggest thanks goes to Edel Lavery and all the teachers who went on the trip.
“It was definitely not a holiday for them - they put the children first at every turn and made them feel really special.”
Thirteen-year-old Aimee Clydesdale’s mum Jo-Anne said the trip is something she will remember always.
“I was so impressed by the efforts of everyone from when we first go onto the plane and the captain came out to say hello, to our treatment when we were in Disneyland - it was just perfect.
“Aimee loved it and got to meet her favourite characters Winnie the Pooh and Tigger. She had this big smile on her face and that just made the trip for me.”
Ms Lavery said everyone involved in the trip had been overwhelmed by the generosity of those who donated funds for the journey.
“The generous support and well wishes from the community of Banbridge allowed the school to create many wonderful memories. The Pupils Staff and Governors were completely overwhelmed and touched by the generosity and support which they received from the community.
“It is testament to the care and respect our pupils enjoy in our community,” said Edel Lavery.
“The holiday began with fabulous greeting from the staff at Easy Jet in the Belfast International airport. The pilot and crew greeted pupils personally and all Easy Jet gave the group great attention.
“Their genuine concern and manner was very much appreciated. Pupils also enjoyed the chance to sit in the cockpit with the Captain. Every part of the trip was a great experience for the pupils.”
And the Donard pupils who remained at home didn’t miss out on the fun either, Edel said.
“A varied programme of events including Build a Bear, Bowling and Leisure Centre visits were organised.
“The money raised from fundraising was used to finance these events and make sure that staff and pupils remaining in school had an enjoyable time.
“Our Disney trip was a huge success - each child and staff has truly wonderful memories of the experience. There was lots of hard work required to organise the it but it was so worth it.”