Charley using her hoop - Credit: Submitted
Charley using her hoop - Credit: Submitted

Nine-year-old Charley's world turned upside down after cancer battle

Joseph Bulmer

Nine-year old Torquay girl Charley Stent Wilson has had her wish for an ‘aerial hoop at home’ granted by the charity Make-A-Wish UK.

It follows a diagnosis of leukaemia when she was just six.

With World Wish Day held on Friday 29 April, the charity has reported that a further 44 children across the South West are living with a critical condition and still waiting for their wish to come true.

When young Charley watched The Greatest Showman in 2018, she enrolled in aerial hoop classes straight away and absolutely loved it. Sadly, not long after beginning classes, Charley was diagnosed with t-cell lymphoblastic leukaemia.

“We had to stay in hospital in Bristol for a month after diagnosis,” remembers Charley’s Mum, Kirsty. “Whilst my husband and Charley’s little brother Olly stayed at home in Torquay. I could only have video calls with him. It was very tough, he missed his sister.”

Charley and her family - Credit: Submitted
Charley and her family - Credit: Submitted

Charley endured a lumbar puncture and needed a central line fitted among other treatment, but reportedly smiled through everything. Kirsty said: “You wouldn’t even know she was poorly. She looked a bit pale but she kept us going.”

Charley was referred to the wish-granting charity Make-A-Wish UK in late 2019 whilst undergoing treatment, but the COVID pandemic meant that the charity was forced to put over 2000 wishes – including Charley’s – on hold whilst it suffered a 40 per cent drop in income. 

Fortunately, treatment continued whilst the wish was on hold, and Charley was declared leukaemia-free on April 8 last year. To add to the celebrations, Charley was able to choose her wish for ‘an aerial hoop at home covered in her favourite cartoon characters’, and the charity got to work.

Debbie Seabrook, Charley’s designated Wish Granter, said: “This wish took over my life – in a good and exciting way! I found Charley a hoop, frame and accessories, but then when we did the measurements, we realised that the A Frame was too big for Charley’s room.”

A huge amount of time and research followed, and eventually a company called X-Pole were able to install Charley’s aerial hoop, making sure the right structures were in place to keep it secure.

Students from South Devon College painted the hoop pink for Charley and helped install it at home, surrounded by fairy lights.

Kirsty said: “Charley’s wish means everything to us. The aerial hoop is helping her to build her strength, regain her coordination and have fun. We can barely get her off it at the minute! I would do everything I could to raise money for Make-A-Wish because seeing the smile on Charley’s face just made me want to do that for every child going through something similar. It’s an incredible charity.”

Jason Suckley, Chief Executive of Make-A-Wish UK, said: “We’re delighted to have granted Charley’s wish after her family’s horrendous ordeal. Throughout the South West, another 44 children just like Charley are living with a critical condition and still waiting for their wish to come true. We believe that they’ve waited long enough.”

Donations to support  World Wish Day can be made at www.make-a-wish.org.uk/south-west