Emma Willis and Stephen Mulhern entertain youngsters as Fylde coast millionaire teams up with Disney to turn country home into enchanted manor

Kind-hearted Fylde coast philanthropist Ken Townsley gave away another chunk of his fortune – this time to help transform a country home in leafy Hampshire into an enchanted manor.

By Michael Holmes
Monday, 13th September 2021, 3:45 pm

Using cash given through his Blackpool-based foundation, the former travel magnate, inset, teamed up with Disney and the Make-A-Wish children’s charity to put on a three-day experience for 150 families who were meant to be flown over to France to visit Disneyland Paris.

Youngsters battling a range of health conditions got to enjoy a breakfast with Mickey Mouse and pals, a chance to perfect their web-slinging skills with Spider-Man, watch a Toy Story carnival with Buzz and Woody, undergo Jedi training, listen to a book with Belle, and meet Anna, Elsa, and Olaf.

Margaret Ingram, chief executive of the Kentown Wizard Foundation, which has handed out millions over the past four years, said: “Sadly, Covid temporarily derailed our ambitious four-year plan to fund all of the Disneyland Paris wishes being granted to children living in the UK.

Stephen Mulhern at the Disney Wish Experience, a collaboration between Disney UK, Make-A-Wish UK and The Kentown Wizard Foundation supporting 150 wish children and families at this first-of-its-kind three-week event (Picture: Jeff Moore)

“However, during these turbulent times we have been extremely impressed by Make-A-Wish UK’s determination to continue delivering transformational wishes.

“Our aim remains the same: to enable children living with serious, life-limiting conditions and disabilities to receive their Disney Wish and we sincerely hope that these wishes will bring joy and strength to families at a time when they need it most.”

A number of celebs got involved, including TV presenters Emma Willis and Stephen Mulhern.

Former Big Brother host Emma, 45, said: “I’m so happy to be involved, watching dreams become realities and experiencing the joy that this event is so clearly bringing to these families.”

Magician turned tele host Stephen, 44, who shot to fame on children’s channel CITV and went on to front programmes such as Saturday Night Takeaway, Catchphrase, and Animals Do The Funniest Things, added: “If there is one thing I know about, it’s magic, so I’m over the moon to be able to get involved in the magical world of Disney to help bring children’s wishes to life in a first of its kind event in the UK.

“It’s an absolutely spell-binding experience.”

Kentown Wizard Foundation was set up in 2015 by Ken, who has a flat in St Annes and made his money after founding Gold Medal Travel, to help children and young adults.

Around £100m was pledged.

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