It’s the start of a magical time of year as Christmas trees are lit up around the city. But for one family, the turning on of festive lights at Trinity Leeds was extra special this weekend.
Wakefield couple Sam Jameson-Briggs and Michael Briggs, with their 20-month-old twins Sophia and Ella, were invited as special guests to turn on the lights of the ‘Wishmas Tree’ during the shopping centre’s Wonder Weekend.
Since 2014, when they lost their 12-month-old son Logan, who was born with Down’s syndrome and a hole in his heart, they have raised more than £12,000 for charity.
And in recognition of the family’s courage and their fundraising efforts, an extra special gift was given to them during Saturday’s light switch-on – a free holiday to Disneyland in Florida.
Mrs Jameson-Briggs said: “It was just pure shock when we found out, even when we woke up the next morning we were thinking, is this real?
“They rang me on Monday to ask if we could go to the Trinity, we went to the marketing suite and they asked if we wanted to turn the lights on and make the first wish.
“That is what we were told it was before they told us we were going to Disneyland Florida. We don’t know all the ins and outs of it but it is VIP access there and back.
“We had only been talking recently about how we wanted to take the girls to Disneyland by the time they were five.
“Sophia’s nick-name was Minnie Mouse since she was little, because she was the smallest, to actually go and see Minnie Mouse will be really great.”
Among the charities the family have raised money for is the Leeds General Infirmary Children’s Heart Surgery Fund, which supported them after Logan was born.
Their son had open heart surgery aged just four months old and sadly passed away after contracting bronchial pneumonia in 2014.
The family was presented with their surprise gift in front of thousands of people who gathered to watch the Trinity Leeds light switch-on, which included performances by aerial acrobats, dancers, contortionists and a gospel choir.
Trinity Leeds’ Wonder Weekend, which finished yesterday, offered visitors free treats, performances and live entertainment, from stilt-walking, super-sized trees to soulful choirs and living doll performers.
Those who signed up for a Trinity Treat Card could also make the most of a VIP pamper parlour, sherbert shack, slumber cinema and edible bubble experience.
Dan Wharton, Marketing Manager at Trinity Leeds, paid tribute to the family’s fundraising efforts.
He said: “When we heard about Logan and his family’s story, we wanted to do something extra special for them.
“Their fundraising efforts, and their strength through what must have been an unbelievably difficult time, is truly inspiring.
“We hope they have a fantastic trip and make some happy memories that will last a lifetime.”