It was the ultimate 2014 Christmas party invite – and a ten-year-old girl from Market Harborough was one of the guests of honour.
Little Bowden Primary School pupil Madison Brooks was a special guest for the party at 10 Downing Street, which was thrown by Prime Minister David Cameron.
And even better, Maddie was able to attend the party with her whole family – dad Oliver, mum Emma, older sister Lorna (12) and younger sister Amelia (seven).
What was the best thing about the party?
“Everything,” said a smiling Madison at her Market Harborough home afterwards.
“The Prime Minister was kind. He talked to me for a while and said ‘let’s have a photo’.”
And on the right is the picture to prove it – except that younger sister Amelia was dancing at the time, and couldn’t actually be found for the Prime Minister’s photocall!
“I danced with the princesses and I danced with Paddington Bear,” explained Amelia.
The Downing Street party was hosted by Mr Cameron and his wife Samantha, and featured children’s TV entertainers Dick and Dom, some of the cast of the family film Paddington including the famous marmalade sandwich-eating bear himself, a few princesses and Santa Claus.
The Brooks family were one of ten families linked to the county’s Rainbows Hospice for Children and Young People, who attended the party.
Dad Oliver said: “There were four rooms set aside for the visitors, including an arts and crafts room where Madison got her hair braided.
“I expected the rooms to have been cleared; but a lot of the actual Downing Street ornaments were still out.
“It was a little bit daunting – there were armed guards on the door – but exciting at the same time, of course.
“Mr Cameron was totally not what I expected.
“He had no tie and was very relaxed and when he was introducing himself he said ‘hi, I’m Dave’.”
Rainbows was one of several charities chosen to attend the annual party, thanks to Loughborough MP and education secretary Nicky Morgan, who helped organise the visit.
The Rainbows hospice, which Madison attends sometimes, is based in Loughborough.
Due to limited places at the London party, the Rainbows children were all selected by ballot to make sure everything was fair.
Jo Sims, head of family support at Rainbows, said: “This was a wonderful day for the families who attended the Christmas party, and they all said it was a magical and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“We are delighted to have been given the chance to attend such a prestigious occasion, and it is a memory our families can treasure.”
Madison is already quite famous in Harborough – she won the top sponsor’s choice prize at the Pride in Harborough awards in April this year, for her smiling bravery in the face of illness.
She has a tracheostomy and has to go to hospital every month, and yet is still a happy and very determined regular at Market Harborough Gymnastics Club.