Our story

Our story started in 1986. Inspired by the story of Chris Greicius, a young boy fighting leukaemia in the US, Make-A-Wish UK was formed to grant life-changing wishes to children with critical illnesses in the UK.

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

Chris Greicus in his police uniform

We worked from offices above a shop in the town of Camberley, Surrey, and relied on the generous support of local volunteers to help us grant wishes. We granted four wishes in our first year. The very first wish was granted to Anthony from Liverpool, who went on a magical trip with his family to meet the Disney characters in Disney World Florida.

As word spread about our work, more and more people began coming forward to volunteer their time. In our second year, we granted 13 wishes. We took on our first full-time member of staff in 1989. And by the end of our fourth year, with the support of a growing team of passionate volunteers, we'd granted 100 magical wishes.

Our volunteers would spend nearly every weekend out and about across the country – giving presentations, accepting cheques, and spreading the word about Make-A-Wish. And as more families turned to us, we began setting up regional offices and taking on even more volunteers, so we could keep granting wishes. There was never a dull moment.

Close up of wish child Elsie

Elsie wished to live in a treehouse with fairies

Recent changes have seen us move location, and we’re now based at our Community Hub in Reading – a town more accessible to our wish children and families and volunteers alike.

Volunteers are still at the heart of our organisation – their kind support has helped us grant more than 13,000 life-changing wishes so far, and our plans for the future are ambitious. Each year, more children are diagnosed with a critical condition, leading to more demand for wishes than ever before. As a result, there’s more need than ever for our volunteers and generous donors to help us achieve our vision of reaching every eligible child.