Our story

In 1980, seven-year-old Chris Greicius was being treated for leukaemia. He dreamed of becoming a police officer. So members of Chris' local community rallied round to make his wish come true – just days before he died.

He couldn't have known then that his wish would inspire the creation of the largest wish granting organisation in the world. But this one act of kindness sparked an idea and the Make-A-Wish Foundation was born.

Make-A-Wish began granting wishes to seriously ill children in America thanks to Chris’s amazing day, and the idea quickly spread. In 1986, Make-A-Wish UK was established by a group of six volunteers. We’re now one of many affiliates in nearly 50 countries and we celebrate that first wish on "World Wish Day" on April 29th every year.

The very first Wish Child, Chris Greicius, wearing his Police uniform.

Chris Greicus in his police uniform

In that first year, Make-A-Wish UK granted four wishes. The first UK wish was for Anthony from Liverpool, who wanted to meet the Disney characters in Florida. 

As word spread about our work, more people volunteer their time, and so, in our second year, we granted 13 wishes.

In 1989, the first full time member of staff joined the team in offices above a shop in Camberley, Surrey, At the end of our fourth year, with the support of a growing team of passionate volunteers, we granted 100 inspiring and impactful wishes!

Across the country, our volunteers spent nearly every weekend giving presentations, accepting cheques and spreading the word about Make-A-Wish.  As more families turned to us, we could grant even more wishes.

Elsie playing with her cousins and her magic wand

Elsie wished to live in a treehouse with fairies

In 2018, we moved to a Community Hub in Reading with good travel links and accessibility for children, families and volunteers.  

Our community now grants more wishes than ever before – 14,000 by the end of 2020 - and as more children are diagnosed with a critical condition every year, more children have turned to us for a wish too. 

The Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 led to us suspending applications for wishes for the first time in our history. Nearly 2000 poorly children had to wait until it was safe for their wish to be granted and our amazing volunteers had to stop carrying out wish visits too.

But together, we are building back to putting hope back on the horizon for those children once more. Thank you to each and every one of you for helping to create life-changing wishes for children who have critical conditions.

Chris' wish

Read more about Chris' wish and the history of Make-A-Wish.

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Charity Information

Find out more about how the charity operates and where your money is spent.

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Governance & leadership

Meet the Senior Leadership Team and Board of Trustees.

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