Northern Lights odyssey

Mitchell in Finland

Mitchell and sister Lauren in Finland16/05/2011 – Thirteen year old Mitchell Thorne from Shoeburyness near Southend-on-Sea has had his wish to visit Finland to search for the Northern Lights granted by Starlight Children’s Foundation, the UK’s leading wish granting charity for children with serious and terminal illnesses.

In October 2009, Mitchell was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a malignant form of brain tumour that can occur in children. As a result of this life-threatening condition, Mitchell required surgery and an intensive course of radiotherapy and chemotherapy. 

Mitchell’s mum, Michelle, told Starlight: “He has an extreme phobia of blood and needles so he finds hospital very hard, although he has improved leaps and bounds on facing these fears. He has taken his illness in his stride and made us all very proud, as before being diagnosed he couldn’t even sit in a biology class!”

Mitchell, who dreams of being a helicopter pilot when he grows up, loves Lego, Warhammer and of course, Playstation!  When he was referred to Starlight for a once-in-a-lifetime wish it came as no surprise to his family that he asked to visit Finland to look for the Northern Lights, which are natural light phenomena that can sometimes be seen in the sky from some northern latitudes. 

Mum Michelle told Starlight: “As a family, his wish would give us all quality time together and that means a lot as much time is spent divided between hospital and home and time apart from each other.”

Starlight arranged for Mitchell, his parents Michelle and Andy and his sister Lauren, aged 11, to travel to Finland and spend a week in the beautiful resort of Nellim, where they were able to enjoy the stunning surroundings of the resort, whilst looking for the Northern Lights at night. 

Although sadly the family never saw the Northern Lights, they had a wonderful trip and Mitchell said of the holiday: “Thank you Starlight for my great trip to Nellim in Finland. It was better than I thought it would be like. Me and my family really enjoyed it and we really didn’t want to go home afterwards. While we there we went husky riding and we fed the reindeer among lots of other great activities. Thank you for granting me this wish – it was my best week ever and you are very kind to grant it. Even though I didn’t see the Northern Lights, I would rate my trip as ten out of ten!”

His dad said: “Words cannot describe what a magical time we had. Due to Mitch still being very tired, we spent quite a bit of time in the cabin. This was pure quality time that we would never, I feel, have been able to achieve anywhere else. As for the log cabin, well that was the icing on the cake! Complete with log fires and deer’s antlers, it was everything that Mitchell dared to dream for. Watching for the Northern Lights every night added to the fun, and although we were not fortunate enough to see them it did not detract from the experience. This was a holiday that dreams are made of.”

His mum added: “Thank you ever so much for giving Mitchell the opportunity to do something that might have been out of his reach and for giving him something to focus on when things aren’t going so well.”


Contact: Henny Breakwell
Tel: 020 7262 2881 #231

Starlight grants a once-in-a-lifetime wish for seriously and terminally ill children, restoring the magic and fun of childhood and giving the whole family happy memories to share, whatever the future holds.

Starlight also creates entertainment in every hospital and hospice throughout the UK. Sick children go to Starlight parties, laugh their way through pantomimes, go out on Starlight Escapes, play games and watch films on the Starlight Fun Centre, and enjoy the toys and puzzles of the Starlight Distraction Box. Happy children respond better to treatment and Starlight helps children to forget about their illness and simply have a bit of fun.

You can make a donation online or by calling us on 020 7262 2881. For every £1 you donate, Starlight can assure you that 91p goes towards helping very ill children. To refer a child for a wish, simply complete our wish referral form.