JLS and dancing favourite, Aston Merrygold visited families and volunteers at Ronald McDonald House Manchester to officially unveil a new playground made from recycled McDonald’s Happy Meal® toys.
The milestone comes as McDonald’s announces it’s hoping to raise a further £1m this month, via its customer collection boxes, digital giving channels and the continuous fundraising efforts of Franchisees and employees.
Ronald McDonald Houses provide free ‘home away from home’ accommodation, giving families across the UK and abroad the chance to remain close to their child whilst they are in hospital. The location of these Houses means that families can be by their child’s bedside in a matter of moments and maintain a degree of normality during very difficult times. McDonald’s is the charity’s biggest supporter, celebrating having raised over £100m for the charity since 1989 and helping many thousands of families.
This week, cameras captured the heart-warming moment Aston Merrygold officially opened the new outside playground at Ronald McDonald House Manchester, which supports families with children in Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital. This week also saw the opening of the new playground in Birmingham, which McDonald’s donated and installed.
The openings this week follow McDonald’s donation of playgrounds to the four Ronald McDonald Houses in London in 2021. Made from more than one million recycled Happy Meal® toys, the playgrounds have been created especially for families staying at the Houses and feature an activity course, pyramid den, interactive wall and activity table.
Aston had the opportunity to speak to families staying at the house in Manchester whose children are currently undergoing treatment, as well as the volunteers and nurses who work at the House.
Aston Merrygold said, “It was amazing to see exactly how the donations from McDonald’s and its customers help support the families staying at the Houses. Ronald McDonald House Charities UK provide a home away from home when families need it most. As a parent of two myself I can’t even begin to imagine how hard it must be for these families.
All the parents and guardians I met at the Manchester House couldn’t thank the team enough for the care they’ve given during such difficult moments. The new playground is an incredible addition to this House – it was so lovely to see the kids and their parents playing and enjoying some time together as a family.”
Available for all children staying at the Ronald McDonald Houses, as well as their hospitalised siblings who visit when they are well enough, the playgrounds provide much needed respite for families at this difficult time.
The average family stay at a Ronald McDonald House is 17 nights, saving each family on average £1,200 per stay. With the number of nights needed being unpredictable and very much dependent on a child’s condition (the longest duration a family has spent at a house being 1,300 nights), the convenience and financial relief offered by the houses are a saviour to many in their time of need.
Jon Haward, Executive Director at Ronald McDonald House Charities UK commented “Ronald McDonald House Charities UK provides free, ‘home away from home’ accommodation for families who need to stay close to their child when they’re in hospital far from home. Customer donations via the McDonald’s App, and via the Kiosks and donation boxes in restaurants, is invaluable to the running of all 13 Houses across the UK.
Without this vital service, families would often have to travel hundreds of miles or stay in expensive accommodation. For those going through such a difficult time, Houses provide some normality, with kitchens, living areas, and now thanks to McDonald’s; playgrounds. We know that both the children at the hospital and their siblings will love being outdoors and being able to play in a positive, safe environment designed especially for their needs”.