<“Tabby still says it was the best day of her life!”>
10-year-old Tabitha’s wish was to have a sleepover at a real-life castle, so we invited her and her friends to Warwick Castle for an experience fit for a princess. Tabby, as she is known to her friends and family, lives with Tango 2, a rare metabolic disorder which means she is often in the hospital and vulnerable to other illnesses.
Tabby loves to be active, and on her good days, dad Jon says she loves “running around, swimming, riding her bike and horse riding”. But her illness means she is sometimes unable to do these things for long periods of time. He says: “There are some times where she just goes downhill and can’t get out of bed. We could have anywhere from four or five good weeks, and then a period of bad days.”
Hannah, Tabby’s mum, explains that family life can be unpredictable and that time in hospital can be hard for everyone. “Tabby finds it really stressful. So do we. We’re working really hard with a clinical psychologist at the moment to find ways to make hospital less stressful,” she says.
<“It’s helped to boost her confidence, to have an experience that other girls her age do regularly,”>
Why Tabby chose the wish
Because of the nature of Tabby’s illness, it can be hard for her to do things that other 10-year-old girls usually do. Tabby had never had a sleepover with her friends before and was keen to make it happen. “Her friends also have complex needs, so we just thought getting them all into the same room for a sleepover would be too difficult,” explains Hannah.
When Hannah and Jon told her that Rays of Sunshine had worked some magic to organise her special wish, Tabby was over the moon. “She couldn’t stop talking about it from the moment she found out,” says Jon.
On the big day, Tabby, her friends, and her family were welcomed by the fabulous Warwick Castle team. They watched the trebuchet show and jousting knights, were introduced to the castle’s falcons, and went on a tour of the castle – guided by none other than one of Warwick’s princesses!
“During the tour, she saw the King and Queen’s huge bedroom, and asked ‘is this where we’re sleeping?’ Which made us all laugh a lot,” says Hannah. After a jam-packed day of fun, Tabby and her friends settled down with a bedtime story read to them by a princess. After the excitement of the day, Jon and Hannah say everyone quickly fell asleep.
“I think when they woke up the next day, all three friends were just shocked they were all still together – as if the sleepover had been a dream that was too good to be true” says Jon.
Mum and Dad’s thoughts after the wish
For Hannah and Jon, the benefit of the wish was being able to spend lots of time together as a family. Jon explains: “Everything we do, we have to think about so carefully. We aren’t able to just ‘pop’ to the park. Having Rays of Sunshine plan and take care of everything was so amazing.”
According to Hannah, Tabby’s castle sleepover wish has had a long-lasting impact on the 10-year-old too. “It’s helped to boost her confidence, to have an experience that other girls her age do regularly,” she says.
On top of that, Hannah says the memory of her Warwick Castle wish is comforting to Tabby. When she’s in hospital, for example, the family talk about the wish to help cheer her up.
“Tabby still says it was the best day of her life,” says Hannah.