Disney and Make a Wish take over Elvetham Hotel – Basingstoke Gazette

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Basingstoke 15°c
A NORTH Hampshire hotel has been transformed into a magical wonderland.
The Elvetham Hotel, near Hartley Wintney, hosted 150 families for a three-day experience as part of the Make a Wish programme which sees children meet their Disney heroes.
The families had their Disney wishes put on hold because of the Covid pandemic and travel restrictions.
Over the course of their stay, Make a Wish families can take part in a variety of Disney activities, including a magical breakfast with Mickey and friends, a chance to perfect their web-slinging skills with Spider-Man, a Toy Story carnival with Buzz and Woody, Jedi training, story time with Belle, or to meet Anna, Elsa and Olaf.
It also saw celebrities including TV presents Stephen Mulhern and Emma Willis join in.
Emma Willis said: “The coronavirus has taken so much from so many people, so I’m thrilled that Make-A-Wish children are finally able to experience the magic of Disney that they’ve dreamed of. I’m so happy to be involved, watching dreams become realities and experiencing the joy that this event is so clearly bringing to these families.”
Stephen Mulhern said: “If there is one thing I know about, it’s magic, so I’m over the moon to be able to get involved in the magical world of Disney today to help bring children’s wishes to life in a first of its kind event in the UK. It’s an absolutely spell-binding experience.”
Ella Wheatley, eight, from Monmouth in Wales, who is living with a genetic condition called GLUT1 that requires a medically managed diet, is just one of the children who’s excited about her wish to meet the Fairy Godmother and enjoy all things Disney.
Her mum Emily said: “Ella is so excited! She has been making a wish to meet her Fairy Godmother by blowing on her eyelashes for almost three years now, as she believes she is Cinderella! After all, Ella does have long blonde hair and the same name! She will be there wearing one of her beautiful dresses and clippy-cloppy shoes, with her hair curled, and make-up on! For us, it’s all about creating memories and it’s a relief that we don’t have to travel or cart around all the extra medical bits and pieces Ella needs. I know it will be more magical for ALL of us not having to worry about all the extras involved in leaving the country.”
Deborah Armstrong, Senior Vice President and Country Manager, Disney UK & Ireland, said: “Through our long history of working with Make-A-Wish, we know the positive impact a Disney wish can have on a child, and that Disney’s storytelling and characters create positive experiences and memories, helping children cope when they most need it. So we are so grateful that our phenomenal collaboration with Make-A-Wish and Kentown Wizard means we can restart granting wishes right here in the UK. We couldn’t be more excited to share this experience with these wish families.”
Make-A-Wish Chief Executive, Jason Suckley, said: “We spoke to 500 of our wish families, who told us that the most important aspect of their child’s Disney wish was a character meet or themed entertainment while enjoying time together as a family. It got us thinking that perhaps we could create those experiences in the UK, and we are hugely grateful to Disney, The Kentown Wizard Foundation and a myriad of generous suppliers who have made this possible – bringing light and happiness to 150 families who would otherwise be waiting for a wish.”
Margaret Ingram, Chief Executive of The Kentown Wizard Foundation, said: “Sadly, COVID-19 temporarily derailed our ambitious four-year plan to fund all of the Disneyland Paris wishes being granted to children living in the UK. However, during these turbulent times we have been extremely impressed by Make-A-Wish UK’s determination to continue delivering transformational wishes. This is one of many reasons why we are extremely passionate about funding the UK Disney Wish experience. Our aim remains the same, to enable children living with serious, life-limiting conditions and disabilities to receive their Disney Wish and we sincerely hope that these wishes will bring joy and strength to families at a time when they need it most.”
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