do come true

Every parent has a list of wishes for their children. Dreams of a lifetime of good health, happiness and contentment. Hopes that they will grow to have courage, respect and compassion for others. And a promise that children will always know how loved they are, no matter what the future holds.

But for parents of children with life-threatening illnesses, their only wish is that they could swap places with their kids and take the suffering away. While they don’t have a blue genie in a magic lamp or a cure for those horrible illnesses, When You Wish Upon a Star do have a couple of wish fairies who bring a sprinkle of stardust and a ray of light in a period of great darkness and make some very special dreams come true. For almost 30 years, the team at When You

Wish Upon a Star has been granting wishes to thousands of children with serious illnesses around the country. From meeting favourite characters and celebrities to visiting Santa in Lapland, the When You Wish Upon a Star team has devoted their

time to helping children aged four to 17 who have been diagnosed with life threatening illnesses to enjoy happy, memorable times. Back in the late 80s, Barbara White was working at Nottingham’s Queen’s Medical Centre when she came across a four-year-old girl called Joanna who was battling stomach cancer. Barbara asked Joanna: if she had one wish, what would it be? To meet Mickey Mouse was her answer. Barbara was so touched by Joanna’s bravery and positivity that she promised to help make her wish come true in any way she could and set out fundraising to send the young girl to Walt Disney World. Sadly, Joanna passed away before the trip but her family went in her memory.

Around the same time, Barbara was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and had to give up work. But despite her own health issues, Barbara knew there would be hundreds if not thousands of poorly children like Joanna whose wishes she could help grant and so she threw herself into launching When You Wish Upon a Star from her Nottingham home in 1990.

She believed those precious childhood years shouldn’t be defined by illness, hospitals or medical intervention; they should be filled with joy, wonder and hope. In the first year, Barbara turned three children’s dreams into a reality. Since then, the charity has grown and, together with a fantastic team, they have granted wishes for over 18,000 children as they approach their 30th anniversary in 2020. As the iconic song goes: if your heart is in your dream, no request is too extreme.


Wishes really Children have danced in the Nutcracker ballet,

seen Tutankhamun’s treasures in Dorchester, trained like an astronaut for the day at Kennedy Space Centre and even cooked a meal for Masterchef’s Greg Wallace and John Torode. Whatever a child’s hobbies and interests, the

Wish team can try and arrange everything from football mascot days to VIP West End show visits. A lot of children want to visit Disney – be

it Paris of Florida – to meet all their favourite characters. While others dream of meeting their favourite singers like Taylor Swift, Shawn Mendes and even David Essex – well, that was actually a mum’s wish.

Some ask for parties to invite all their family and friends; others prefer technology to keep in touch with schoolfriends during isolating hospital stays. Toys and games are often the most wished for gifts, with the fairies providing everything from a trolley dash around a toy shop to a simple bubble machine. They’ve given one little girl a (fur-real) pony called Butterscotch and created a boy cave in the back garden to house one little boy’s toys. One of the most recent wishes to come through to the team is to swim with pigs in the Bahamas.

There are no real guidelines for what wishes can be, the only real ‘rule’ being that the child cannot have already had a wish granted by other similar charities – this is to ensure as many children as possible have the chance for their dream to come true. Parents or family members can apply on a child’s behalf and then the two wish fairies, Rachael and Sam, will arrange to visit the family home where possible to chat to the child and find out their interests.

Each child is advised to choose three wishes and the team will try and grant the first and favourite one; however, this may not always be possible for medical reasons.

While it is a child’s wish, the team try and involve the whole family where they can to provide

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