Molly Olly's Wishes marks a decade supporting 16,000 children - The Leamington Observer

Molly Olly's Wishes marks a decade supporting 16,000 children

Leamington Editorial 26th Jan, 2022   0

MOLLY Olly’s Wishes is celebrating ten years supporting more than 16,000 children across the UK.

Rachel Ollerenshaw and her husband Tim set up the Hatton-based charity not long after their daughter, Molly died from a rare kidney cancer.

Rachel said: “Molly was the reason I started the charity…when she died, I just knew I needed to help other children like her. Knowing we have made the dark days brighter for more than 16,000 young people is what drives me and the charity forwards.”

Molly Ollys was officially registered a decade ago and for such a small charity of only three staff and eight regular volunteers, it certainly punches above its weight.

It emotionally supports youngsters up to the age of 18 who have life-threatening illnesses. The charity does this through through its Olly The Brave therapeutic soft toy – with different coloured detachable manes to help children to feel ok when they lose their hair and if it grows back differently – and award-winning books, as well as donating wishes to children who are facing unimaginable challenges.

To date, more than 13,000 Olly books and toys have reached children at over 70 hospitals and more than £3million has been raised.

One of the charity’s proudest achievements has been funding a Consultant in Paediatric Palliative Medicine at Birmingham Children’s Hospital for the past three years.

After demonstrating the effectiveness of the role and significantly changing the experience for all those who have benefitted from the service, it is now being funded centrally by the NHS.

A proud Rachel said: “We learntthere was no Consultant in paediatric Palliative medicine for the area – the position just did not exist. There are only approximately 20 in the whole of the UK.

“We live in Warwickshire where there is one and so we knew the benefits and importance when we nursed Molly at home. We decided we would raise the funds and directly pay for a Palliative Consultant for Birmingham to help provide the best care for children with palliative care needs. It is fabulous to see what a real difference this role has made and is making to children’s lives.”

Dr Yifan Liang is that consultant and she knows just how crucial her position is.

She explained: “Families and clinicians are often anxious about a referral to the palliative care team because so often they worry that this is just about end of life.

“Whereas my role is about making it possible for children to have to have the best life that they can, rather than necessarily about how long their life is.

“A lot of my job is about making sure that the children are comfortable; that they have their symptoms controlled; that they have access to activities and how to help them make the most of life.”

Through the success of this palliative post for patients, the hospital has taken on another palliative consultant and it now has the opportunity to become a training hospital in the future, once more funding is secured.

Magnolia House is another project Molly Ollys supported that opened in February 2017.

The charity worked with health professionals at Birmingham Children’s Hospital to create and furnish Magnolia House at a cost of £45,000. This has given the hospital a safe, non-clinical and comforting space where medical teams and families can have important discussions about diagnosis, treatment and end-of-life care.

More than 2,500 wishes have also been granted all over the UK since the charity began in 2012. Each wish the charity donates is unique like each child and over the years, there have been many weird and wonderful wishes delivered.

One teenage boy, who was a big fan of police interceptors, asked to be arrested by police as his wish – and the charity made sure that happened.

Rachel said: “This was certainly an unusual one but very special. We helped organise a 16th birthday party for the boy and the police turned up at his party and arrested him in front of all his friends and family which he was delighted about.”

One youngster the charity recently supported with a wish was Ella Richards from Warwickshire, who was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma when she was 16.

Ella faced a serious health battle, but after six months of chemo, she was given the all clear. Molly Ollys gifted her a £500 Bullring shopping voucher which she spent on fake eyelashes and eyebrow treatments after losing her hair, as well as a bracelet which has ten carefully chosen charms symbolising every step of her cancer journey.

Ella – now 17 – remembers the gift well: “Molly Ollys helped me through the chaos of my diagnosis and chemotherapy, their gift gave me something to really look forward to. Thanks to the charity I could enjoy going out shopping and forget the worries and stress of cancer and feel like a normal teenager again.”

Six-year-old Flo Stokes from Warwickshire has high risk Neuroblastoma which is quick spreading and has a high rate of relapse. She’s undergoing intense chemotherapy treatment and Olly has helped her enormously.

Her mum Hannah: “Flo adores Olly. He has really helped her to understand what would be happening to her as he has ‘wigglies’ just like Flo and he’s lovely to snuggle up to. Flo loves Olly so much that she entered a raffle to win a big Olly at Birmingham Children’s Hospital and she won! Big Olly sleeps in bed with her and she sits on him to watch TV at home.

Flo’s family are trying to raise £250,000 to take her to America for a vaccine which they hope will save her life.

To donate, visit

Supporting children and their families emotionally and financially is the key purpose of Molly Ollys and their strapline – which still rings true ten years after it started – is ‘making the dark days brighter.’

Visit for further details.



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