The Independent London Newspaper
20th January 2017

Lost in Lapland: Mother calls for holiday refund after daughter goes missing on Northern Lights sleigh trip

    Charli Faux with her daughter Scarlett moments before they were separated on what should have been a dream Christmas holiday

    Published: 5 January, 2017
    By TOM FOOT

    A MOTHER is demanding a £3,000 holiday refund after her young daughter was “lost” in an Arctic Circle wilderness during a once-in-a-lifetime Christmas trip to Lapland.

    Charli Faux, who works at Acland Burghley School in Tufnell Park, said she was “crying guttural sobs” after four-year-old Scarlett did not turn up on a sleigh that was supposed to have transported her through a pine forest to view the Northern Lights.

    The 38-year-old, who lives in Archway with her husband Paul Campbell, a former headteacher at Primrose Hill Primary School, had followed behind with other parents on a convoy of snow mobiles as part of the two-day package deal. 

    Ms Faux said she had to be “restrained by three people” after she “turned into a wild animal” before Finnish police were called, adding: “I was thinking either she never got on the sleigh, or she’s been kidnapped – or she’s dead. It was like something out of a horror movie.”

    After a frantic one-hour search in minus 15 temperatures, it turned out Scarlett had been put on the wrong sleigh and had travelled to a different viewing spot.

    Santa’s Lapland, the company providing the Northern Lights “safari” sent a big teddy around to the family’s hotel room and later offered a £230 refund on the sleigh excursion.

    But Ms Faux said: “We have tried to tell this story a few times and we never get through it without crying – genuinely, I am not sure how to describe it. It is pitch black, you are in another country, people are speaking in Finnish, you are in the middle of the Arctic Circle. Everyone just looked bewildered.”

    She added: “They kit you out in red suits and helmets, everyone looks the same – which is part of the problem. All the children are put in a sleigh at the front, and parents go behind in a convoy of 10 snow mobiles.”

    Ms Faux said after zipping through pine forests in the pitch black the convoy arrived at its destination but Scarlett was nowhere to be seen. 

    Only when they returned to base, another sleigh returned carrying Scarlett looking “really baffled”, she said.

    Ms Faux said the whole holiday was “completely tainted” because they were “shell-shocked the whole time”. 

    She said: “I want to see the company take responsibility. They’ve reimbursed us £230 for the ‘safari’ part of the holiday, but what about the rest? It is just unbelievable, and unacceptable.”

    The package included flights, hotel, the Northern Lights trip, husky sledging, gala dinner and a visit to Father Christmas. 

    The Santa’s Lapland company, based in Godalming, Surrey, says it has many years’ experience in specialist family holidays and guarantees every detail will be taken care of on the magical visit.

    In a statement, it said: “We are aware of this incident which happened on an excursion with one of our suppliers. Mrs Faux’s daughter was safe at all times and was in a sleigh with other children accompanied by adults and a qualified guide throughout. We carry many thousands of families to Lapland every year and indeed, have been doing this for 12 years. Our guests’ safety is our highest priority and for that reason we have over 100 of our own staff in the resort supplemented by the supplier’s local expertise. 

    “We are sorry for any distress caused and we are in discussions with the family as to how to resolve the situation.”