Following a highly successful run last year, Thistles Shopping Centre in Stirling has relaunched its community Wishing Well initiative, giving visitors the chance to submit a wish to be in with a chance of it being granted by the centre, and having their dreams come true. Raising vital funds for Make a Wish UK, shoppers are encouraged to pledge a donation to the charity while making their wish.

The centre granted a total number of six wishes throughout 2023, with notable wish winners including young Tait from Stirling and Archie from Dunblane. Tait Hiddleston aged 5, submitted his wish to attend his first ever football game. Thistles treated him to an all-access pass for local team Stirling Albion, which saw him receive a free Stirling Albion kit, attend the match, meet the team and walk out on the pitch with captain Adam Cummins prior to an action-packed game against Hamilton.

Aspiring firefighter, Archie saw his wish of becoming a firefighter for a day come true as Thistles organised a special visit to Stirling Fire Station where he embarked on a tour of the station and learned all about the equipment used. At the end of the day, Archie was able to sit in the front of the fire engine and got to try using the hose.

Throughout 2023, Thistles shopping Centre in Stirling has continued its commitment to its ongoing #ThistlesHelps initiative, hosting various fundraising events and activities held to help the local community. Raising a whopping total of £20,000 throughout the year, the donations made jointly by the public and the centre will help good causes across the Stirling and Forth Valley region.

At the start of the year, Thistles launched the Winter Warmers Community Hub initiative, partnering with Transition Stirling to offer a helping hand to those struggling with the cost-of-living crisis. The Hub offered pre-loved but excellent condition outerwear for those who were unable to purchase new and operated on a ‘pay what you can’ basis.

Supporting schools with an exciting Christmas story competition in which local school children were invited to submit their own Christmas story. Emma Russell aged 11 from St Mary’s Episcopal Primary School in Dunblane beat over 100 local children with her story, ‘A Thistles Christmas Adventure’. Thistles worked with local Stirling artist Lauren Ashley to turn Emma’s story into a published picture book, bringing her characters, such as Kalo the naughty elf, to life through beautiful hand-drawn illustrations. To celebrate Emma, now one of the country’s youngest authors, Thistles hosted a ‘sell out’ book launch and signing in the Waterstones within the centre, with all proceeds donated to St Mary’s Episcopal Primary School’s fundraising efforts.

Capping off the year of fundraising, Thistle’s annual Christmas Grotto welcomed families from around Stirling and Forth Valley to visit Santa in his magical Grotto within the centre in an effort to raise funds for local charity, Strathcarron Hospice. With over 825 tickets sold, the annual festive experience raised an impressive total of over £7,000. Donations will help Strathcarron Hospice continue to provide specialist end of life care for the people of Forth Valley.

Gary Turnbull, Centre Director at Thistles, said: ‘Over the past year we’ve had the opportunity to fundraise for some amazing local charities and the public response to the events and initiatives we’ve held has been fantastic. It’s been great to see the success of the Santa’s Grotto grow each year, and we’re delighted to have welcomed some new fundraising initiatives to the centre such as the Winter Warmers Hub and the community Wishing Well which we are excited to be relaunching this year.

“This is the third year of our #ThistlesHelps campaign, which is our way of saying thank you to the local community. Despite times being tough financially for many people over the past year, we’re humbled to see the generosity of the people of Stirling and really look forward to our fundraising efforts throughout 2024.

“We encourage visitors of all ages to get really creative with their wishes this year, and welcome any requests – big or small. We look forward to making more dreams come true.”

Thistles aim to create memorable, life-long memories through the community Wishing Well and encourage visitors to get creative with their submissions, welcoming requests of any size.