Heartbroken Riley receives special visit from Santa

All the way from the North Pole… Santa and his wife Mrs Claus joined young Riley in his family home after reading about his story in the Strabane Chronicle.

A HEARTBROKEN five-year-old boy who was ‘banned from seeing Santa’ has received an extra special visit from jolly St Nicholas.

Young Riley McCauley who is a pupil at St Joseph’s Primary School in Glenmornan, was due to visit Santa at Barrontop Fun Farm alongside his primary two classmates in the run up to Christmas.


However his mother Emma said his school decided Riley was ‘too hard to handle’ and told him he wasn’t allowed to go. Heartbroken Riley then thought Santa wouldn’t be coming to visit him on Christmas Day ‘because he did something wrong’.

However, touched and taken aback by the young lad’s disappointment, local couple Francis and Elizabeth Brown decided to lift his spirits by facilitating a visit to the Man in Red himself.

“Riley was so excited and over the moon,” explained mum Emma. “Last week he was extremely upset when the school told him he couldn’t attend a trip because he was too much of a handful. I am pleased to say his spirits have been lifted. Christmas was saved for him.”

Riley lives with 47XYY Syndrome, a rare genetic condition also referred to as Jacob’s Syndrome that affects 1 in 1,000 boys and means he has an extra male chromosome. The condition is usually associated with an Autism diagnosis, attention difficulties, emotional and behavioural issues and involuntary muscle movements.

His mother Emma explained that she has long been campaigning for him to be moved to another Strabane school that caters for pupils with special education needs, Knockavoe School, but has been told that he doesn’t fit the criteria.

This week, during the visit to Santa and Mrs Claus, Riley was given a special Christmas gift and reassured that, despite his fears, Santa would indeed be visiting him on Christmas day.

Accompanying him on the visit Santa was Elizabeth Brown.

“His little eyes lit up when we came to see Santa,” explained Elizabeth. “He was so excited and it is clear it meant a lot to him. We were more than happy to have made this lad’s Christmas after what has happened to him.”

Over the festive period, both mother and son were said to be blown away by the support shown by the local community.

“The people of Strabane aren’t a bad bunch,” Emma laughed. “I have received a lot of messages of support and outreach from those in the area. What is more, a couple from Belfast even took the time to visit Riley and gave him a gift after they heard about the story. We are truly humbled.”


The Strabane Chronicle is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
Registered in Northern Ireland, No. R0000576. 15 Main Street, Strabane, Co. Tyrone, Northern Ireland, BT82 8AS