The LOOK Herefordshire Family Project had a fantastic time this week visiting Santa’s Grotto at St Michael’s Hospice in Hereford. Thanks to funding from Herefordshire Council, Herefordshire Community Foundation and the EF Bulmer Trust, our Herefordshire Family project co-ordinator Claire Trumper was able to take a group of families with visually impaired children to see Santa and his elves in the magical hospice garden.

Group pose in front of giant Christmas tree outside st Michael’s hospice - Charlotte C at one end, and Claire at other with Christmas hats on - lot of white canes and cozy coats

We were greeted warmly by Santa’s Elves who offered everyone a marshmallow dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with magic dust, and then we set off – following the signs down the hill towards the grotto.

One of our Hereford teenager members holding a marshmallow dipped in chocolate and covered in sprinkles stands in front of a sign saying this way and arrow pointing right

White canes leading the way, and what a festive scene greeted us as we rounded the corner. Bright giant orange and yellow baubles on the grass and fairy lights festooning the paths and flower beds. Everything was transformed, and magic was all around.

Wow what a festive scene giant orange and yellow lit baubles on the grass and lots of Christmas light - dark night sky behind

None more magical than Blitzen! The singing reindeer delighted both children and adults – a perfect interactive, accessible, tactile festive surprise that got everyone in the Christmas mood. Watch the video below to get a taste of his wonderful voice.

LOOK’s CEO Charlotte Carson, donned her Santa hat and with her white cane, joined families walking through the starlit grotto entrance – walkways draped in sparkling white fairy lights, shimmering white baubles and silver branches. A perfect winter night.

Charlotte C walks through the starlit grotto entrance with her white cane in front

At the bottom of the path we were greeted by two of Santa’s Elves – broad grins and green and red outfits. They welcomed the LOOK families and let them know what to expect when they met Santa.

Two Elves warmly grin - dressed in traditional Elf outfits green jackets, red t
trousers and red collars with white pom poms at the end and warm Elf hats with a white fur trim

And then, one by one, the families went in to meet Santa in his grotto. And there was he was, seated on a chair with his arms outstretched, greeting the families with a very jovial HoHoHo

Father Christmas with his arms outstretched to meet the LOOK young people

Some went in with their parents, and some with siblings – everyone came out with a broad grin and an extra Christmas spring in their step…

Another young LOOK Herefordshire member smiles towards the camera holding her white cane with a glowing ball of light at the end. She is wearing a warm red coat with fur trim. Santa sit behind her with his huge curly white beard and red suit with white fur trim. Fairy lighs drape from the ceiling of the grotto

It was extraordinary that the real Father Christmas had travelled in his sleigh all the way from the North Pole to visit St Michael’s Hospice in Hereford. But it really is a very special place…the smiles on these Herefordshire brother’s faces says it all…

Two siblings leaving Santa's grotto, with broad smiles on their faces and Santa blurred in the background

The grotto was cozy and warm – the walls lined with books and a tree with a Star on top. Santa sat in his giant chair – wearing his traditional red suit with white fur trim, and asked each of our young people what they wanted for Christmas. Requests ranged from helicopters, a cleaning set, an ice cream van to extra quiet crackers.

Young woman wearing a green coat and Christmas hat, a broad smile and holding her white cane in front of her, stands next to Santa who is dressed in his red suit with white trim and giant black boots with white fur trim.

Everyone was sad to leave Santa and the grotto, but also very excited about boarding the St Michael’s Express. We waited patiently at Elves Halt for our ride home on Santa’s train.

Close of up of the st Michael’s express train stop - Elves Halt white lights all around the sign

Thank you to Santa, the elves, all the staff at St Michael’s Hospice and Herefordshire Council, Herefordshire Community Foundation and the EF Bulmer Trust for making this magical, wondrous Christmas trip happen. Do hope we can come back again next year 🎄