Little Belfast girl Sofia granted her wish to see Santa in Lapland
A special little girl from Belfast has been granted her festive wish of visiting Father Christmas at his home in Lapland.
Sofia Clarke was born with Rett syndrome, a rare condition which affects the development of the brain.
The eight-year-old is led by her senses and loves the texture of snow, prefers cold weather and is also a big fan of Santa, so when Make-A-Wish UK arranged for her to visit the man himself, she was thrilled.
On arrival in Lapland, Sofia and her family were kitted out in thermal clothing before settling down for the evening, ready for a few days of festive fun.
They were treated to a husky ride, met some of the reindeer and elves, rode skidoos and got the chance to look around Santa's workshop, before setting off through the winter wonderland in search of Father Christmas.
Sofia's mother Sarah said: "The best moment for Sofia was driving up to see Santa - she was giggling the whole time.
"It was wonderful to see her smile and it brought joy and happiness to us all."
Sarah spoke of how life changed for her family when Sofia was diagnosed.
"When the diagnosis came, I felt like I had lost the child I knew and that Sofia was gone - I went through a grieving process," she said.
Sofia is Rett atypical - she is mobile and able to make eye contact, but she does have limited communication, behavioural problems and takes medication for her reflux and bowel problems.
There is no cure for Rett, so her symptoms are controlled through medication.
"It was great to spend time together as a family, especially for Sofia and her sister Poppy, as they often spend time apart; it was lovely for them to be together and have that quality time with each other," Sarah added.
There are currently 20,000 children and young people in the UK who are fighting a life-threatening condition and more than 1,000 of them will turn to Make-A-Wish this year.
To make a donation or refer a child to Make-A-Wish, you can visit the following website: www.make-a-wish.org.uk, or you can telephone 01276 40 50 70.