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Hundreds of children fell under the spell of Hogwarts’ hero Neville Longbottom actor Matthew Lewis, who flew in especially to meet them before their departure on the British Airways Dreamflight, bound for Harry Potter World in Orlando, Florida. They were joined by TV presenter Konnie Huq, Tinkerbell and Star Wars characters in a huge celebration at Heathrow.
Every year, a specially chartered British Airways jumbo jet flies almost 200 children with a serious illness or disability to Florida to enjoy a fun packed ten-day trip of a lifetime, where they spend time at attractions including Disney World and Universal Studios.
British Airways comes together with the Dreamflight team each year to make the departure a special event – and this year an army of volunteers, including the Air Cadet National Marching Band and British Airways cabin crew and pilots were at Heathrow to see the children board the Boeing 747 through a magical castle.
Harry Potter actor Matthew Lewis, said: "Dreamflight is a fantastic charity and I’m honoured to be part of such a magical send-off, alongside volunteers from British Airways.
“It’s humbling to see how excited the kids are to be flying off to visit Harry Potter World. I hope they have an incredible time.”
TV presenter and mum of two, Konnie Huq, said: “Dreamflight is a great cause and this trip will make a huge difference to the children's lives. As a mother, I know how enthusiastic children get about the prospect of going on holiday, and Disney World will top any other adventure!”
Since the first flight in 1987, 5,500 children have flown on ‘Dreamflight’, and for many – it’s the very first time they’ve travelled abroad and been away without their family. The young fliers are accompanied by the Dreamflight team, British Airways cabin crew, and a fully trained medical team, which includes doctors, nurses and physiotherapists, who are on hand 24 hours a day throughout the trip.
British Airways captain Andrew Bean said: “I feel honoured to be flying the Dreamflight group of children to Florida. The children are such an inspiration to us all and it’s wonderful to be part of this once-in-a-lifetime, special trip”.