In 1980, a seven-year-old boy called Chris Greicius was being treated for leukaemia in America. He dreamed of becoming a police officer one day, 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 and community action sparked an idea. The Make-A-Wish Foundation was born!
Following Chris’s amazing day, the idea quickly spread and 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.
In that first year, Make-A-Wish UK granted four wishes. The first was for Anthony, from Liverpool, who wanted to meet the Disney characters in Florida.
As word spread about our work, more people volunteered 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.
In 2018, we moved to a Community Hub in Reading with excellent links to public transport and accessible facilities for the team as well as for children, families and volunteers.
Our community now grants more wishes than ever before – 15,000 by the end of the summer of 2021 - 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 seriously ill 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 striving 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 been diagnosed with critical conditions. You can read their inspiring stories here.