Dreams do come true! Wish Upon A Star calendar shows how the charity puts smiles on the faces of sick children
These joyful youngsters are proof that making dreams come true can be the best medicine. Each has a life-threatening illness, and has had their dearest wish fulfilled by the Wish Upon A Star charity.
The children have been brought together for a calendar to celebrate the organisation’s 21st birthday.
Wish Upon a Star has played fairy godmother to 14,500 children, answering pleas to swim with dolphins, become a Butlins redcoat and meet Father Christmas in Lapland. So who are they, and what dreams came true for them
A JOURNEY TO SANTA”S MAGIC FOREST
Five-year-old leukaemia sufferer Lois Ladkin Brown has the time of her life while visiting Lapland with her mother and sister
Five-year-old Lois Ladkin Brown was diagnosed with leukaemia last year and the hospital scheduled a period of intensive chemotherapy to begin on Christmas Eve.
Anticipating a tough Christmas, the charity arranged for Lois, her mother Cheryl, 33, and sister Jasmine, 14, to visit Lapland. ‘It was minus 20 outside,’ says Cheryl, from Nottingham, ‘but we were well-equipped with scarves, gloves and extra layers.
“The moment we arrived in the ‘enchanted forest, our noses were daubed with charcoal from smouldering logs — a local tradition symbolising the distinctive noses of the reindeer.’
When the chemotherapy began, little Lois was attached to a drip for 12 hours a day. ‘She spent Christmas Day lying on the sofa, too weak even to open her presents,’ recalls Cheryl.
Fortunately, Lois’s treatment was successful and she is now in remission and looking forward to celebrating Christmas Day properly this year.
A DIP WITH DOLPHINS
Liam Rixson, 12, makes a splash while swimming with dolphins in Florida
Liam Rixson was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis as soon as he was born. His father, Daniel, 36, gave up his job as a farmer near Nottingham to look after him.
‘Nursing him can be heartbreaking,’ says Daniel, ‘and it is hard having to explain to him why some of his friends who also had cystic fibrosis have died.’
Liam’s day-to-day routine is gruelling. He has physiotherapy sessions in the morning and evening, relies on a nebuliser to help him breathe and takes tablets to help him digest his food.
His greatest wish was to swim with dolphins in Florida. ‘It was the best day of his life — he wants to go back!’ laughs Daniel.
Liam, now 12, learnt to swim at the local baths, but swimming with dolphins was quite different. The family were amazed by the way the dolphins chattered and burbled — and even the normally shy Liam chattered back.
A DATE WITH ROBBIE
Laura Pietrzyk, 30, was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at six months but met Robbie Williams through the charity in 1999
Laura Pietrzyk, 30, was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at six months. ‘I’ve never known anything but illness,’ she says.
She believes there is more to treating an illness than medication. In 1999, the charity arranged for her to meet her idol, Robbie Williams, after a concert in Birmingham, where she lives.
‘It was the tonic I needed — as good as anything doctors could provide,’ she says.
A LITTLE KITCHEN ALL OF MY OWN
Georgina Kabi, who is now four, was clearly delighted with her small play kitchen
Georgina Kabi, who is now four, was diagnosed with leukaemia when she was eight months old.
Alarm bells rang when her parents, Andrea, 30, and Jason, 45, from Leicestershire, discovered unexplained bruises all over one of her legs. The next two years were spent in and out of hospital.
Georgina’s wish was a modest one: a small play kitchen, with a breakfast bar.
‘It gave her a real boost,’ says Andrea. ‘It meant she had something lovely, a reward, to play with.’
In 2008, Georgina had a stem cell transplant and her leukaemia has been in remission ever since.
A RENDEZVOUS WITH RAPUNZEL
Amber Palin, who was diagnosed with cancer at primary school, enjoys her moment after visiting Disneyland Paris
Amber Palin was diagnosed with cancer just six weeks after starting primary school.
Aged four, she lost her long brown hair to chemotherapy. During the months in hospital, Amber watched Disney films with her parents Kam, 41, and Rob, 44.
Amber’s wish was to go to Disneyland Paris to meet the ‘real’ Rapunzel, the character she loved because of her long golden hair.
Kam says: ‘It was so nice to go somewhere as a family.’
Amber, now five, finished chemotherapy six months ago and, to her delight, her hair is starting to grow back.
A DAY AS A PRINCESS
Cerebral palsy sufferer Bethany Snell revels in her princess fairytale while meeting actress Gaynor Faye
Bethany Snell suffers from cerebral palsy and epilepsy and is looked after full-time by her parents Donna, 32, and Andrew, 36.
While many children dream of Florida, the ten-year-old’s wish took her whole family to Centre Parcs, in Sherwood Forest, near to their home.
‘It was the best holiday we have ever had,’ says Donna. ‘The charity had arranged for doctors to be on site.’
As part of the break, Bethany met actress Gaynor Faye, pictured, who used to star in Coronation Street.
A BIG HUG FROM BECKS
Sophie Manson, whose severe asthma has blighted her teenage years, gets a hug from David Beckham
Severe asthma has blighted Sophie Manson’s life since she was a baby. Her condition had always been manageable, but ten years ago, at the age of 12, her health deteriorate and by 17 she was bed-bound.
‘It was devastating,’ recalls Sophie, from Breaston, Derbyshire. ‘I was missing out on so much.’
Her wish was one shared by many teenage girls: to meet David Beckham. The charity flew Sophie and her mother to Spain where they sat in Beckham’s private box and watched him play for Real Madrid.
‘Suddenly my illness wasn’t the only thing that defined me,’ says Sophie. ‘Overnight I became the girl who’d met David Beckham, and all my friends were jealous.’
Sophie has since trained as a social worker and is getting married next year.
A TANK RIDE WITH REAL TOY SOLDIERS
Jack Clayton joined troops for lunch and sat in a real tank during his special day at an Army training camp
When Jack Clayton was four, his parents — Lindy, 30, and Lee, 33 — began to suspect something was wrong with him.
‘He was constantly tired and complained of headaches and blurry vision,’ says Lindy, from Nottinghamshire. When the doctors examined him, they discovered that Jack’s pancreas was failing — and he was suffering from type-1 diabetes.
When the charity approached the family, Jack — who is now six — turned his love for toy soldiers into a reality. He joined an Army training camp for a day, clambering inside a tank and eating lunch with the troops.
‘I think he understands it’s the one job he’ll never be able to do,’ says Lindy with a moment’s sadness.
Dream come true: Also featured in the calendar is Craig Mawby, 21, who was taken on a holiday to Florida in 2008
Georga Howsin, seen here swimming with dolphins at Disneyland Florida, was another person to benefit from Wish Upon A Star. Georga has AVM, which is an abnormal connection between arteries and veins in her brain
Abbie Simms (left) saw her wish come true when she met McFly star Dougie Poynter and the rest of the group through the charity. Abbie has a brain tumour and cannot see out of her left eye
Owen Brindley, 12, became a Butlins Red Coat for the day in 2010 after having his wish become reality. Owen was born with no left kidney and a smaller than normal right kidney. He also has facial palsy and has to wear splints on his feet
The When You Wish Upon A Star calendar can be purchased for 5 (plus p&p). Call Head Office on 0115 9791720, or email [email protected]
The Wish Calendar was produced with the support of Michelle Amess from Saul Isaac Photography, Ruddington, Photography, Gary Wheat, When You Wish Upon a Star, Nottingham, Graphics, Matt Boam and Peter Clarke, Print 4 Ltd, Nottingham.