Nottingham has signed a Friendship Agreement with the capital of Lapland to officially seal a special connection that’s existed between the cities for 27 years.

Former Lord Mayor and Sheriff of Nottingham, Councillor Mohammed Saghir, joined children on a Santa Express flight to Rovaniemi, courtesy of Nottingham-based charity When You Wish Upon A Star, to meet Santa Claus himself as well as formalise the special relationship.

Councillor Saghir, who helped take the proposal forward while undertaking his civic duties, signed the Friendship Agreement along with Mayor Rovaniemi Esko Lotvonen and Barbara White who founded the When You Wish Upon A Star charity in Nottingham in 1990.

Since it was set up to grant the wishes of children living with a life-threatening illness, it has granted over 17,500 wishes across the UK, from trips to Disneyland and the chance to swim with dolphins to meeting celebrities and personal heroes.

Every December the charity also enables around 50 children to swap hospital beds for sleigh rides, transporting them away from appointments, treatments and injections to the winter wonderland of Lapland on board its Santa Express flights, to see reindeer and meet Santa.

Barbara worked with Councillor Saghir to establish the Friendship Agreement. The pair presented scrolls outlining the special relationship between the two cities to Mr Lotvonen.

Councillor Saghir said: “It was a very special trip to Lapland, to see the magical experience that When You Wish Upon A Star provide every year for children with life-threatening illnesses. It was a pleasure to officially seal the special relationship that’s been established between the two cities – and for once, grant Barbara a wish of her own.”

Barbara added: “I know what a special place Roviniemi has been for so many children and so it’s lovely that the City Council has made it possible for this Friendship Agreement to be signed between the two cities. Wishes really do come true!”


Nottingham and Rovaniemi

  Nottingham                                       Rovaniemi
Population 308,000 62,000
Average Christmas temperature 4.2C -9.4C
Natural phenomenon Caves Aurora Borealis
Landmarks Trent Bridge Jätkänkynttilä bridge
Universities University of Nottingham, Nottingham Trent University (formerly Trent Polytechnic) University of Lapland, Rovaniemi University of Applied Sciences (formerly Rovaniemi Polytechnic)
Cultural icons Jake Bugg Mr Lordi
Animals Deer Reindeer
Legendary claim to fame Robin Hood Santa Claus