Hainault charity The Dream Factory grants 200th wish
PUBLISHED: 12:35 19 April 2013 | UPDATED: 12:35 19 April 2013
When seven-year-old Ayse Er was told she could no longer go to school because she was too ill, she wished for an iPad she could play with and use to keep in touch with friends.
Hainault charity The Dream Factory heard her story and made her dream come true – the 200th wish it has granted in five years.
The charity aims to brighten up the lives of young people with disabilities and terminal illnesses by granting wishes from new bikes and toys, to holidays and meeting celebrities.
Ayse, who lives in Edmonton, was born with spinal muscular core myopathy and spent the first two years of her life in hospital.
Carer Fatima Erogluk said she was very happy with the iPad and uses it a lot.
The Dream Factory’s founder Avril Mills said iPads have become a popular wish.
She said: “A lot of children are in and out of hospital most of the time and it allows them to keep in touch with friends and play games.
“We also get requests for meet-and-greets with celebrities, but it can be a lot of work tracking them down.
“We recently did one with Lewis Hamilton and it took seven months because he was out of the country racing all over the place. But we get a good response from celebrities.”
Boyband JLS were one of the host of music groups who have met young fans through the Dream Factory.
In 2010, they met 21-year-old Steph Bisceglia, who now works at Sainsbury’s in South Woodford.
She said: “They asked what I wanted and when I said to meet JLS they made it happen.
“The band sang a song for us and we had pictures taken. Then we just sat and had a general chat. They were really lovely.”
Steph, of Waltham Abbey, has brittle bone disease. She said: “I will always be grateful to The Dream Factory.”
Avril was inspired to start the charity in 2008 after the death of her son, Oliver, nine, who had leukaemia.
After arranging for him to meet actors from his favourite soap, EastEnders, in hospital, Avril granted another child’s wish to meet the team from Arsenal – and the charity was born.
There are only two other part-time staff at the base, in Fowler Road, but hundreds of volunteers keep the charity going.
Avril said: “We have had so much support from the local community and it’s all helped to grant 200 wishes.
“We’re so proud and excited – we’ve done so much in such a small amount of time.”
Sometimes a child’s dream is sadly impossible and the team have to get creative.
Murad Shaikh’s dream was to meet the late Michael Jackson.
So instead, the charity organised a trip for the 10-year-old to see the West End show of the star’s hits, Thriller Live, and got him together with the cast, who taught him the iconic Thriller dance to perform at a Dream Factory party.
Mum Gowhar Shaikh, of East Ham, said: “He loved Michael Jackson and he was really upset when he passed away, but it’s amazing what the charity does.”
The Dream Factory’s work has drawn the support of famous patrons including Elvis Presley’s daughter, Lisa Marie Presley, actor Ray Winstone, Chingford and Woodford Green MP Iain Duncan Smith and actors Sid Owen and Patsy Palmer – better known as Bianca and Ricky in Eastenders.
Ms Presley said: “I am very proud to be a patron of this marvellous children’s charity. It’s very inspiring.”
Actress Vicki Michelle, who is best known for playing Yvette in television series Allo Allo, also said she was proud to be a patron.
She added: “Well done Avril and the dream team.”
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