Barrie Wells reflects on his Trust’s impact on seriously ill children
Unfortunately, Box4Kids events have been put on hold due to the Covid-19 outbreak, however, Founder Barrie Wells and his team at the Trust are looking forward to bringing Box4Kids back even bigger and better once things return to normal.
Box4Kids is an initiative run by The Barrie Wells Trust, a charity funded by its philanthropist and entrepreneur Founder. The Trust invites seriously ill and disabled children to enjoy a sporting or entertainment event in the luxury of an executive box. This VIP treatment also provided a safe environment for children with severe medical needs.
“We are hugely grateful for the continued support of all our box holders,” said Barrie. “We are proud to be associated with this country’s amazing NHS service through our Box4Kids work. They are doing an incredible job and we look forward to working with the hospital staff again in the future to create some more magical memories for deserving children.”
A simple idea with a big impact
Barrie (pictured below receiving his MBE) started Box4Kids in 2010 at his executive box at Anfield. He invited seriously ill Liverpool FC fans from local hospitals to watch their favourite team in VIP style. Barrie reached out to other companies as the idea took off, asking venues and box holders to consider donating their executive boxes to Box4Kids for one or more events a year. This year, Barrie was invited to Buckingham Palace to receive his MBE from Prince William for his services to charity.
Facts and figures
Nearly 10,000 children and their families have enjoyed a Box4Kids experience. Over 150 different box holders donate to Box4Kids across a variety of venues, including the Premier League, O2 Arena, Wembley, Lord’s Cricket, The Royal Albert Hall and Formula 1. The Trust works with a great network of 100 hospitals across the UK who nominate children to attend Box4Kids events, well-known names such as Great Ormond Street, Alder Hey, Royal Manchester Children’s and Great North Children’s Hospital.
The Barrie Wells Trust is proud to be the chosen charity of The Jockey Club and Farnborough International Airshow.
Since 2015, each of the Jockey Club’s 15 UK racecourses have donated at least a couple of boxes a year to the Trust’s Box4Kids initiative. Every racecourse makes such an effort to ensure the guests’ day is as special as possible, with an array of exclusive extras. Box4Kids guests have had the opportunity to visit the parade ring to get up close and personal with the horses; to try on jockeys’ silks and even present prizes to winning jockeys, owners and trainers. As an added surprise at Newmarket Racecourse, Grand National winner Bob Champion always takes the time to visit the Box4Kids guests in the executive box and accompanies them to the parade ring.
“I never expected our Box4Kids events at The Jockey Club to be so incredibly successful and popular among the families we support. Some people may think that these events are more adult-based and focused on betting, but The Jockey Club is so family-orientated and go above and beyond to make our guests feel very special at every event we attend.”
In 2016, Box4Kids attended Farnborough International Airshow for the first time. Accommodated in VIP chalets, guests had a first-class view of the spectacular airshow and were visited by the Red Arrows who took photos and signed autographs. Box4Kids travelled abroad in 2018 for the first time to the Singapore International Airshow and later that year returned to Farnborough for their biggest event to date.
What do Box4Kids think?
‘It was such a great day! We got to stand by the racecourse next to one of the jumps and watch the horses up close race past. It was amazing as you could feel the ground shaking and hear the thundering of the hooves before you could see the horses, it was a great experience.’ (Cassidy, aged 14)
‘I love what the Barrie Wells Trust and The Jockey Club do for children like Talia. Talia’s conditions are something she is going to have to live with for the rest of her life and it’s so kind that Barrie wants to give us these special treats and for us to be able to make special memories that we might never of been able to if it wasn’t for Barrie and all the other amazing box donators.’ (Parent of Talia, aged 6)
‘What I enjoyed the most was meeting other people with different types of cancer. The Box4Kids event helped me as it brought happiness to my face because Disney on Ice is what I wanted to watch. Thank you for inviting me it was a very good day.’ (Josie, aged 17)
‘I have wanted to go to the Etihad Stadium to watch Man City forever, you made my dreams come true as I spend most of my time in hospital so it is impossible to get to Manchester. I felt amazing seeing my team win and the food and company were amazing. I felt on top of the world.’ (Conner, aged 15)