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Community in shock over death of Children to Lapland founder

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Statement from Colin Barkley, Trustee, Northern Ireland Children to Lapland and Days to Remember Trust:

“The local business community has been shocked to learn of the death of Jack Rodgers, MBE, who was the founder and chairman of the Northern Ireland Children to Lapland and Days to Remember Trust (NICLT).

Jack was determined Northern Ireland should have a dedicated charity to help local children…and so NICLT was born.

The concept was, and remains, simple….to give ‘terminally ill, life limited and deserving children’ the trip of a lifetime, to meet Santa Claus, at his home in Lapland, in the run up to Christmas.

In December 2018, the charity made its 10th annual trip to Lapland, chartering a 220-seater aircraft which, regrettably, could have been filled several times over.

In the last decade over 1000 local children have enjoyed this incredible experience with every aspect of the trip funded through the charity – from flights, food and drink, reindeer, husky and skidoo rides right through to presents for every child and meeting the man himself, Santa Claus.

Thanks to Jack’s drive, energy and commitment, the remit of the Trust has expanded to incorporate Days to Remember. This allows children whose illness prevents a trip to Lapland’s sub-zero temperatures to take part in a once in a lifetime experience. Several trips to Disneyland in Paris have generated similar levels of excitement, exhilaration and sheer joy to that of the Lapland experience.

Jack has been the driving force throughout, using his business acumen and contacts to fundraise. His ideas have included the now annual ‘Walk to Scotland’, where, with the support of Stena Line, all those sponsored do laps of the boat during a daily trip between Belfast and Cairnryan…raising tens of thousands of pounds in the process. Jack also planned a ‘Ramble on Rathlin’ later this summer.

Over the last 10 years, the reputation of the Lapland Trust (as it is more commonly known) has grown considerably and its fundraising base has significantly widened…and it must continue to do so.

Regrettably, there are so many children in Northern Ireland who fall within the charity’s remit and we owe it to them and to Jack’s memory to ensure that the charity continues to thrive. The Trust was a huge part of Jack’s life…some would say that his every waking hour was devoted to it.

The award by the Queen of an MBE in the 2012 Honours List was well-deserved recognition of his commitment to charitable acts over the last 40 years. However, the beaming smiles on the faces of hundreds of children, and the precious memories that have been created for their families, will be his lasting legacy.

The 11th annual trip to Lapland is scheduled to take place in December. Jack will not physically be there, but his presence will be keenly felt that day and, in the years, to come.

Jack Rodgers – we thank you for everything!”

Jack’s family have told us that anyone who may wish to pay tribute to Jack is welcome to attend his memorial service on Saturday 30th March 2019 in Whiteabbey Presbyterian Church at 12pm.

Digital Editorial Team
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