We are delighted to announce that Karen Jones, Chairman of Northern Lights, has been recognised with a MBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours 2018 for her services to children with life limiting illnesses in the North West and North Wales.
Over three decades Karen has continually fundraised for the Northern Lights after the charity was set up in 1987 in memory of her friend, and co-committee member, Alan Johnson’s son, Christopher, lost his battle for life at the age of 5 after suffering with a brain tumour. Every December, the charity takes a group of children, aged between 6 and 11, on a short holiday to the Arctic Circle in Lapland to meet Father Christmas.
Karen has devoted her life to raising as much money as possible so that each year as many children as possible can enjoy a brief respite from their day-to-day struggles to visit the real Father Christmas and enjoy a first-class holiday along the way. She is completely selfless in her approach putting the work of the charity before all else. The time and attention to detail to make these trips happen cannot be underestimated but Karen continues to work tirelessly and relentlessly in fulfilling the charity’s aims.
Karen Jones said that receiving the honour as a representative of the charity was a huge privilege: “Wow, what an amazing way to end our 30th Anniversary year. I am surprised and delighted to have been awarded an MBE and feel very honoured to receive it. I hope that having these three letters after my name will add weight to our fundraising efforts and we continue to raise money for these wonderful holidays of a life-time. Directing Northern Lights is a big part of my life, and being able to raise money for children with life-limiting illnesses is very important to me. I wouldn’t be in this position if it wasn’t for the support of my fellow volunteers at Northern Lights and within the local community, so I would like to take this opportunity to thank them all.”
Nurses from Alder Hey Children’s hospital commented “Northern Lights have allowed hundreds of very poorly children to receive a boost in their confidence and wellbeing which is hard to match. The children return home from Lapland invigorated and the parents are so thankful. For the few days, they can forget being the focus of hospital treatments and being enclosed in a sanitized environment. The children are exposed to new experiences, new friends, plenty of fresh (freezing) air and of course they meet Father Christmas. As nurses, we can testify to the difference in the children when they return for further treatment. All they want to talk about is their trip to Lapland and reminisce looking back at pictures, making the other nurses on our ward jealous!”
2017 was the charity’s 30th Anniversary and an additional trip to Disneyland in Paris was organised allowing 30 children in total to be taken away in this special anniversary year. The charity had never previously taken children with mobility problems away before, due to the limiting conditions in Lapland, so visiting Disneyland Paris during the Christmas celebrations enabled an additional 10 children to be taken on a trip. The charity hopes to repeat this trip again in future years opening up opportunities to provide more deserving children with magical experiences.
Now, to top off their thirty-year celebration, the charity has just achieved the magic milestone of raising £1 million during their 30 years of fundraising and have taken over 500 children on these wonderful holidays of a lifetime.
Dr Hilary Jones, the charity’s Patron commented, “I have worked on mainstream British television for 25 years and during that time have covered the work of many charities. I have travelled abroad to witness the work of several of these charities and spent many hours involved with their activities domestically here in the UK. At times, I am humbled and inspired by everything they achieve. There is one standout charity however that has moved me more than all others, brought me to tears and reminded me more than anything else why I wanted to become a doctor myself in the first place and that charity is Northern Lights.”