A princess or a footballer? Charity urges Manchester to dress up and help grant wishes for sick youngsters

What did you want to be when you grew up? A policeman? A princess? A footballer? 

The dream of ever becoming one of those may be over in reality but Make A Wish UK are urging everyone to revist their childhood dreams to help them grant more wishes for poorly children and young people across the country. 

Its latest fundraising scheme, Wear What You Wish®, gives people the perfect excuse to dress up as what they wanted to be when they were younger.

The initiative aims to raise funds from donations on organised dress-up days in the community, workplace or school. 

The charity has helped hundreds of young people realise their dreams including 18-year-old Josh Haygarth from Nantwich in Cheshire.  

Josh was diagnosed with cerebral palsy following a severe brain injury when he was just a few weeks old.

He always dreamed of being a race car driver and although he is a quadriplegic and confined to a wheelchair, Make-A-Wish corporate partner Club Le Mons, granted him a Ferrari car experience. 

Josh was also able to go track-side at Silverstone and had a ride in a Lamborghini. 

His aunt, Nina, said: “Josh isn’t able to communicate verbally, so having his wish realised, despite the challenges, has left him feeling valued and understood. 

“The fact that he was given his wish now, when he is still physically able to sit in the car, means that we didn’t leave it too late to make his wish come true.”

Josh’s condition is potentially life-limiting and his cerebral palsy won’t improve in the future. He will become more restricted as his flexibility reduces but the future is never completely clear.

Nina added: “The wish day was a really special family experience for which we are so grateful.

“We will forever cherish watching Josh’s face as he drove in from his turn on the track – he had the biggest smile I’ve ever seen.” 

 Supporters are asked to hold the event on World Wish Day on April 29, which is the anniversary of when the first wish was granted in the US back in 1980.

The first recipient was seven-year-old Chris Greicuis, a boy with leukaemia who had always dreamed of being a police officer. 

Chris’ wish inspired the creation of Make-A-Wish and the UK branch of the charity was formed in 1986. 

A young boy from Liverpool was the first in the UK to have his wish granted.

Anthony had been diagnosed with a brain tumour and wanted to meet the Disney characters at Disney World Florida.

Wishes like these being granted can transform and enrich the lives of seriously ill children and Make-A-Wish receives no government funding, so every donation does count.

Director of fundraising Amanda Williams  said: “A wish is a lasting memory not just for the child or young person fighting a life-threatening condition, but for their parents and siblings too.

“It can provide some much needed respite or simply give them some precious time together as a family.”

There are currently 20,000 children and young people in the UK fighting a life-threatening condition and the organisation needs to raise £7.5million in order to be able to grant 1,000 wishes this year.

Four wishes were granted the first year the charity began which rose to 100 by the end of their fourth year.

The organisation is based in Camberley and has so far helped to fund over 9,000 wishes to date.

To sign up and download the Wear What You Wish® fundraising pack, click here.

Here’s Josh in action at the track day:

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