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 sadly lost his fight with his illness.

He couldn't have known his wish would be the inspiration for the largest wishgranting organisation in the world. Because this one act of kindness sparked an idea and Make-A-Wish Foundation was born.

Make-A-Wish began granting wishes to seriously ill children in America just a year after Chris’s dream. And the idea quickly spread. In 1986, Make-A-Wish UK was established – we’re now one of 38 global affiliates granting Make-A-Wish wishes.

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.

In our 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 DisneyWorld Florida. 

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

Working from offices above a shop in Camberley, Surrey, in 1989 the first full time member of staff joined the team.  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 set up more spaces to support even more volunteers, so 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, the Make A Wish team moved from the base in Camberley to a Community Hub in Reading. More accessibility to children, families and volunteers were key requirements.

Our community now grants more wishes than ever before – 14,000 by the end of 2019 - 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 community of volunteers had to stop carrying out wish visits too.

But our community of volunteers and supporters continues to have generosity of time and spirit as we build back to putting hope back on the horizon for those children. Thank you to each and every oneof you for helping create life-changing wishes for children with critical conditions.

Chris' wish

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

Read more

Charity Information

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

Read more

Governance & Leadership

Meet our Trustees and Senior Management team.

Read more