Welcome to Dial A Dream
Our Mission: To make the Dreams of children aged between 3 and 18 years, suffering from a diagnosed life limiting and life threatening illness, become a reality.
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Mission Impossible? – September 1992
A young boy lay in his hospital bed, his body was weak and thin, his head completely devoid of hair, due to months of constant treatment to rid his system of the cancer that was slowly eating away at his body; a body that used to be so fit and play rugby to County standard. His family sitting beside his bedside holding his now frail hand, feeling so useless as they watched his young life slipping away.
A few days earlier his uncle had approached British Airways, to try to arrange a dream visit for the boy to look over a Jumbo jet at Heathrow. The boy had always dreamed of becoming a pilot. It was thought that through such a visit, it might in some way give the young boy an incentive to continue to fight this terrible disease.
The reply to the request came from British Airways confirming that arrangements had been made for the visit to go ahead. With tears in his eyes the uncle who had made the arrangements had to explain to the BA representative that the boy had died just a few hours earlier.
It was during those visits to the hospital that the uncle was informed that a trip, to Disney World Florida had been organised for twenty youngsters, all of whom were suffering from various life threatening illnesses. He was then told that the party had been duped by the unscrupulous organiser: She had stolen the money. There was only a short time to go before the re-scheduled trip to go ahead. The children were unaware of the predicament.
The uncle was Tom Whitbread a London cab driver, who together with fellow cabbie Bob Heath and Bobs daughter Verna, set about devising a plan to raise enough money to allow these unfortunate children to fulfill their dream.
How do you raise £40,000 in as many days? They didn’t have a clue, but that wasn’t going to deter them either. Access to office facilities and a computer was granted by Dial-A-Cab, London’s premier licensed taxi operator. The trio set about publishing a two page article relating to the plight of these children. Photocopies were made and distribution was begun, both within the taxi trade as well as anybody else that they came into contact. In the hope that anybody could help with this mammoth task.
Trevor Wood one of the founders, was also a publican and managed a very large pub in Essex. Trevor suggested that we hold an evening of entertainment and to this end some 38 acts were asked to participate. They all turned up and gave their services free of charge. Groups such as “The Tremolo’s” “The Rubettes” and “Gidea Park” Page 3 Girls conducted the raffle and assisted with the auction.
At 7.30pm the doors opened and at 04.30 they closed (the pub had been drunk dry the acts were exhausted and the charity had made £27,000.00. Nearly there!
Some of the children concerned would have to be transported from Belfast into Heathrow (Aer Lingus saw to that) and consequently transport needed to be arranged between Heathrow and Gatwick. Grey Green Coaches alleviated this problem by donating coaches and drivers.
With only days to go all the money needed was raised, the various parties were paid and the trip went ahead.
Sadly for many of those children it was to be their last.
Early 1993 saw the coming together once more of those people now dubbed by the local newspapers as (The Dream Team) that had been involved in the organisation and execution of the fundraising. Tom Whitbread, Bob Heath, Verna Heath, Denis Mahoney, Harry Griver, Les Coster Trevor Wood and Tony Rivers.
An informal lunch was arranged, to discuss what we as a group had achieved and where we should go from here. There was a general feeling of euphoria amongst the group that they had achieved so much in such a short time. It was then that we decided that we should apply to become a registered charity which would be run on a purely voluntary basis.
We had seen how other charity’s were taking astronomical sums of donated money and applying it to wages and “administration” this would not be allowed to happen at Dial-A-Dream.
Our application was completed and lodged with the Charity Commission, being a government body would take its time in processing and approving the application.
So we continued in the mean time to fulfill Dreams for sick children.