25 Years

  • The story of Roald Dahl's Marvellous Children's Charity


The Roald Dahl Foundation was created

In 1991, the charity was set up in memory of Roald Dahl (originally as the Roald Dahl Foundation) by his widow Felicity (known as Liccy) in Great Missenden after his death in 1990.

The story began in 1991, when the charity was first created by Felicity Dahl. It had three major focus areas: literacy, neurology and haematology, which were all specific to the life of Roald Dahl and his family. In 1992, the first Roald Dahl Nurse post was created at Alder Hey Children's Hospital and was the UK's first paediatric epilepsy nurse specialist. 

In the early days of the charity, in addition to funding nurses we also supported a range of other organisations running projects for children affected by blood and brain related conditions, as well as literacy projects around the UK.  We also helped children and young people with grants directly to support them and their families in times of financial need, and this is still the case today.

By 1996, there were 13 marvellous Roald Dahl nurses in post, helping thousands of children with a serious illness and their families.

The Roald Dahl Foundation was (and still is) able to carry out its marvellous work, thanks to Roald Dahl's literary works and the Roald Dahl Charitable Trust. After all, it was Roald Dahl who famously said, "If you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely." Find out more about the Roald Dahl Charitable Trust's charitable vision.



The Roald Dahl Foundation - a growing peach

From 1996-2000 the Roald Dahl Foundation continues to grow and help seriously ill children across the UK.

After the Roald Dahl Foundation had been in operation for several years, a marvellous sponsored-reading initiative called Readathon became an official charity partner. Roald Dahl was the chairman of Readathon until 1990 and his passion for reading and encouraging children to inspire their love of reading continued. In 1999-2000, over 600,000 children in over 5,000 schools took part in Readathon.

In 1998, The Friends of The Roald Dahl Foundation was born. This was an entirely voluntary group who offered bundles of enthusiasm to help raise funds for the charity. From candle-lit concerts in Roald Dahl's hometown of Great Missenden, to an appearance on BBC Radio 4, their marvellous support enabled the charity to develop further. 

1998 became an especially important year in this period as the Quentin Blake Award was introduced. To celebrate his services to the charity and commemorate his friendship and collaboration with Roald Dahl, the award provided an extra boost of support to charities already supported by the Roald Dahl Foundation.

By the year 2001, the Roald Dahl Nursing community was expanding and at this time, the charity had 21 Roald Dahl nurses in post. 



The Roald Dahl Foundation - 10 years old

35 Roald Dahl nurses were supporting seriously ill children in the UK by 2006.

By 2001, The Roald Dahl Foundation was achieving a lot for the children and young people it helped. The charity was able to undertake it's work thanks to organisations such as Music Link International, who have managed a series of music orchestral commissions for young people, based on the work of Roald Dahl, including a National Orchestra of Wales performance which was broadcast on television in the year 2000.

During this time, we launched our first website, which enabled the foundation to enter the digital age and allow our grant-recipients to access our services more easily. 

By the end of 2006, there were 35 Roald Dahl nurses and funding for further nurses was underway. 

From 2001-2006, the charity was also incredibly excited to see an increase in the marvellous support received from our Payroll Givers. The kind donations received from Payroll Giving continue into 2016 have helped us plan confidently for the future.



The Roald Dahl Nursing community grows

The Roald Dahl Foundation becomes Roald Dahl's Marvellous Children's Charity.

Edith (pictured) is one of many Roald Dahl nurses that form part of the marvellous Roald Dahl nursing community. Edith and her counterparts, provide invaluable medical and emotional support for children in her care.

For Roald Dahl nurses like Edith who helps children affected by sickle cell anameia and Thalassaemia, she couldn't imagine doing anything else. Edith says, "The best thing about the job is knowing that I've made a difference. I have an incredible sense of fulfilment by doing this job."

In 2006, the Friends of the Roald Dahl Foundation organised a very special garden opening at Gypsy House (Roald Dahl's house) to celebrate the very first Roald Dahl Day on the author's birthday, 13th September. Every year since, thousands of people of all ages have celebrated Roald Dahl on this day.

In 2008, with the recent creation of the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre to continue Roald Dahl's literacy legacy, it was decided that the charity should focus on helping children and young people with serious, long-term and rare medical conditions.  So, while the charity was incredibly proud of its support for literacy activities, the change enabled more funding to be provided for Roald Dahl nurses and grants, increasing the impact of our work.

In 2010, the Roald Dahl Foundation changed its name to Roald Dahl's Marvellous Children's Charity. By 2011, there were 47 Roald Dahl nurses in post.



Over 50 Roald Dahl Nurses are helping seriously ill children in the UK

Roald Dahl's Marvellous Children's Charity 25 years on

In the last five years, the charity has helped thousands more seriously ill children and their families in the UK. On average our Roald Dahl nurses have over 200 children on their case load, some have more than three times this amount, and we estimate that since we opened our doors in 1991, through our Roald Dahl nurses and our Family Grants, we have helped over 200,000 seriously ill children in the UK

In 2011, the very first Dahlicious Dress Up Day was launched. The day celebrates the world's number one storyteller and aims to inspire children's love of reading. Schools across the country have taken part and children dress up as their favourite Roald Dahl character and donate £1 to the charity.

In 2016, the Roald Dahl Day celebrations are even more marvellous as we celebrate 100 years of Roald Dahl and 25 years of Roald Dahl's Marvellous Children's Charity. There's a special Roald Dahl rose which donates some of its proceeds to the charity and events that celebrate the families we support, including one in Cardiff where Roald Dahl was born and Birmingham, where we have appointed the country's first Transitional Care Coordinator for children and young people affected by rare diseases.

At the end of 2016, there are 54 Roald Dahl children's specialist nurses in post and our marvellous nursing community is set to grow further.

  • The story of Roald Dahl's Marvellous Children's Charity