Disney and Make-A-Wish Join Forces to Create Magical Disney Experience for Wish Children in the UK

Celebrities Matt Willis, Millie Mackintosh and Helen Skelton join Make-A-Wish UK families for the UK’s largest ever Disney Wish Experience

News release for immediate release, Tuesday 20 September

­­The Walt Disney Company UK & Ireland, Make-A-Wish® UK and The Kentown Wizard Foundation have joined forces to create a unique Disney experience in the UK for children living with critical illness. For two weeks in September, Hoar Cross Hall in Staffordshire will host 240 families for a magical three-day immersive experience for children living with life-limiting or life-threatening illnesses; many who are unable to travel abroad due to their conditions.

In preparation for the children’s visit, Hoar Cross Hall has been transformed into an enchanted manor where Make-A-Wish families will be able to take part in a variety of incredible Disney activities, including a Winnie the Pooh and Friends picnic; Jedi Training Academy; a Mickey and Minnie Bedtime Story; a Frozen Sing-Along; Story Time with Belle in the Grand Ballroom and a Marvel Training Initiative featuring Marvel Super Heroes.

Keen to get involved and lend their support to the wish families by volunteering at the event, several celebrities will be joining the Disney Wish experience. Actor and musician Matt Willis; model and TV star Millie Mackintosh and TV presenter and Strictly Come Dancing star Helen Skelton will be among the stars spending time with the children and their families, hearing more about their stories and helping to make sure they experience all the Mickey magic and fairy-tale fun.

Fraser visited Hoar Cross Hall with parents Andrew and Ali. At just 17-months-old the family were given the devastating news that Fraser had an extremely rare illness called B Cell lymphoma with Burkitts MYC gene rearrangement. At three-years-old Fraser was taken for a bone marrow transplant and had just a five per cent survival rate.

James Mostyn, seven, from Denbighshire in Wales, is just one of the children looking forward to his visit and can’t wait to have some swash-buckling fun with his favourite Disney characters, Peter Pan and Captain Hook. James is living with Down’s Syndrome and is currently in remission after three years of chemotherapy to fight Leukaemia.

Catherine, James’ mum, said: “[We’re really looking forward to] seeing James be fully able to interact and engage, and to get involved with everything alongside children his own age. He has always been on the outside of things, only able to interact or engage so much because of his condition. It’s a great way for us to mark the end of his treatment and look forward to the future.”

Freddie, four, who has a rare chromosomal syndrome attended A Disney Wish with parents Emma and Laura. Freddie’s condition is life-limiting and although it is anticipated he won’t ever talk, Emma and Laura hope he might walk one day.

Deborah Armstrong, Senior Vice President and Country Manager, Disney UK & Ireland, said: “Following the success and impact of last year’s event, I’m so pleased we are able to work with Make-A-Wish and Kentown Wizard again to create another magical experience for hundreds of children and their families who are living with serious illness. The joy and magic of a Disney wish, featuring meet and greets with iconic Disney characters and unique interactive experiences, helps families create priceless memories they can cherish for a lifetime. Our biggest UK Wish event to date, being able to create even more Moments that Matter is so inspiring, it’s a personal highlight in the Disney calendar.”

Make-A-Wish Chief Executive, Jason Suckley, said: “Over 60,000 children in the UK are living with a critical illness, and may not be able to travel abroad due to the limits of their condition – so understand that every day is precious and some of these wishes are time critical. We’re absolutely delighted that over 200 children will be able to have their wishes come true by experiencing the magic of Disney right here in the UK, providing light and joy right when they and their families need it most. We are extremely grateful to Disney and to The Kentown Wizard Foundation for making this event possible.”

Margaret Ingram, Chief Executive of The Kentown Wizard Foundation, said: “A Disney Wish was conceived in 2021 at a time when the global pandemic was severely impacting all our lives and in particular the lives of seriously ill children. We were privileged to witness first hand how this unique event brought laughter, joy and Disney magic to 140 children and their families at a time when they needed it most and so we had no hesitation when providing funding to make A Disney Wish 2022 possible.

Reimagining the Disney experience in a central UK location is a unique concept which allows many more seriously ill children to make precious memories with their families. We are proud to be part of this collaboration and to witness again, the impact of a Disney Wish”

Partners involved in the event include: A1 Wildstretch, Asmodee, Bupa, Direct Mobility, Disney+, Disney Destinations International, Disneyland Paris, eBuyer, Edz Kidz, EPH Creative, ES Promotions, Funko, Get Ready Comics, GumGum, Hasbro, Hoar Cross Hall, JL Live, JVL, KidDesigns, Lego, MediaBrands, MXW, Nuk, Poundland, Premier Relocation, Printroom Group, Quantcast, Rhino Sensory, Rolla-ramp, shopDisney, Smiffys, Unruly, Waterlogic, Wearetricycle and Widdop.

To find out more about how wishes can help, visit make-a-wish.org.uk or follow the charity on social media: Twitter (@makeawishuk), Instagram (makeawishuk) and TikTok (@makeawishuk).

About Disney Responsible Business

At The Walt Disney Company, our purpose is to inspire a better world through the power of stories. As part of this, we are committed to operating our businesses responsibly and with integrity, taking care of our people and doing good in our world. Disney’s partnership with Make-A-Wish and other not-for-profit partners across Europe is an example of how, working with others, we help build emotional resilience. Together we bring the power of our brand, stories, and characters to inspire and create Moments that Matter for children and those closest to them when they need it the most. In 2021, we created over 58,000 life-changing moments across Europe. Our commitments, goals and progress is reported annually in The Walt Disney Company CSR report here. For more information on our programmes and our long-standing charitable partners please visit www.thewaltdisneycompany.eu 

About Make-A-Wish UK

Every day, the lives of 10 families in the UK are changed forever when a child is diagnosed with a serious illness. From that moment, childhood takes a backseat to medical appointments and worry. A wish helps to restore that childhood and puts worry on the backseat. It provides an opportunity to choose something positive to look forward to and the chance to be a child first and a patient second.

Make-A-Wish UK is a registered charity that was established in the UK in 1986 to support children and young people diagnosed with a serious illness or life-limiting condition, by granting them their dearest wish. The charity receives no Government funding – registered charity numbers: 295672 in England and Wales, SC037479 in Scotland. 

About The Kentown Wizard Foundation

The Kentown Wizard Foundation is based in Blackpool and was set up by philanthropist Kenneth Townsley in 2015. The foundations mission is to have a positive impact on the lives of children and young adults with serious, life-limiting conditions and disabilities. They do this, by making grants to UK registered charities whose aims, and values are closely aligned with their own and to date, have successfully gifted over £12,000,000.

Registered Charity Number – 1163956

About Hoar Cross Hall Spa Hotel

Hoar Cross Hall Spa Hotel is a spa retreat nestled in the Staffordshire countryside. Spanning more 185,000 square feet, guests can experience pamper days, weekend trips and staycations.

Hoar Cross Hall has recently completed a £14 million renovation, including refurbishing it’s 104 bedrooms, Long Gallery, Sunroom and Parlour.

The Hall is one of the Largest Spas in Europe, offering guests access to an array of award-winning spa and relaxation facilities. For those feeling more active, there are more than 43 acres of mature woodland and picturesque gardens to explore and a range of outdoor activities.

Hoar Cross Hall has also been recognised by the International Travel Awards 2022 for ‘Best Spa Resort’ in England and has been nominated for ‘Best Hotel Spa’ in the Good Spa Guide Awards 2022 and ‘England’s Best Spa Retreat’ in the World Spa Awards 2022.