A March update from our CEO, Jason Suckley
In November 2020, we granted Elliot’s wish to be a football mascot in a completely different way. Thanks to technology, and a willingness by Elliot and Leeds United to try something new, he became their first ever virtual mascot. He even got on the telly, as you can see here...
Elliot’s wish is just one example of the adaptability, creativity and resilience that the children and young people we support have demonstrated throughout the pandemic.
Picasso said that ‘every child is an artist, the problem is how we remain an artist once we grow up’. Over the years I have learnt a lot from the children whose wishes we grant. In the face of challenges most of us can only imagine, they demonstrate an incredible resilience and creativity that’s not stifled by thoughts about why something won’t work. They also show resilience that you wouldn’t think possible. I have met many children who, despite nearing the end of their life, have been the pillar that the rest of their family come to rely upon. Many of the conditions these children live with are inherently unpredictable. In the face of this, they are forced to find a way to adapt to rapidly changing circumstances.
In March 2020, we had 2,000 critically ill children waiting for a wish. Imagine for a minute that you are one of those children. Amongst all the challenges you face, there is something to look forward to. Something that you’ve created. Something that’s just for you. Then, just before it is about to happen, it’s taken away from you. You don’t know what’s going to happen next and you don’t know whether you have the time to wait.
In the face of this, never have the qualities of creativity, resilience and adaptability that these children demonstrate been more apparent. Over the past 12 months more than 600 of these children have changed their wish. Every single one of those wishes was changed by the child. There have been some amazing examples of wishes that previously didn’t exist - A very special birthday at home (see Leah’s wish) or a Christmas staycation with the family (see Adam’s wish).
5 years old
Solid malignant tumours
"I wish to have a fun birthday at home"
Leah has been through a lot already in her short life, but she’s not lost the wonder and joy of childhood and having a birthday in lockdown was not going change that.
13 years old
Rare immune condition
"I wish to have a magical winter wonderland at home"
13 year old Adam has a rare immune condition, that has resulted in three bone marrow transplants. His wish was for a winter wonderland to be created inside and outside his home.
This enabled us to grant 87 wishes in December alone, seven of which were ‘rush’ wishes of children who showed the ability to create and adapt as they neared the end of their life. Tragically, some children died before their wish was granted. It is the memory of these children that drives me more than anything. Our aim must be to create an organisation, a community, capable of reaching every one of these children, regardless of whether they go on to live a happy and healthy life or they have only a few hours left. You can help us achieve this.
We need to recognise that our inability to meet our loved ones and do many of the things we once took for granted, will sometimes lead to dark times. However, in the face of this, if we spread kindness, embrace others' point of view and look out for each other, we will come through it stronger together. These times will pass. However, as they do, it would be good to take our learnings with us.
Meanwhile, for Make-A-Wish and in the world around us, there is increasing room for optimism. With the help of our wonderful volunteers, we recently started doing wish visits again - a child-led conversation through which a wish is created. In a few weeks' time, we will also start receiving new applications for a wish - something we haven’t been able to do for the past 12 months. This has been made possible by supporters like you, who have worked alongside us and adapted with us over the last year.
So, thank you for your support. Thank you to every employee and volunteer associated with Make-A-Wish UK. Most of all, thank you to those children who have inspired us to move through these challenging times, towards a future that we can all look forward to.