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Our history

Ronald McDonald House Charities UK has been operating for 30 years, since construction began on the first House in 1989.

Globally, the Ronald McDonald House Charities organisation has been helping families since 1974.

How our story started

Ronald McDonald House Charities was born out of an unlikely partnership between a doctor, McDonald’s, and the Philadelphia Eagles. Fred Hill, a player for the Philadelphia Eagles, had a daughter suffering from leukaemia, and the team was inspired to raise in excess of $100,000 dollars to support the hospital.

This gift was received by Dr Audrey Evans, an oncologist at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, who also responded with a request for another $32,000 to fund a House in which the families of the children in the hospital could get proper rest, away from the ward. In turn, this request was met by Ed Rensi, an area manager for McDonald’s, who had the idea of donating the proceeds from the McDonald’s ‘shamrock shake’ to the cause.

Thanks to these early supporters, the first Ronald McDonald House opened its doors in Philadelphia on 15 October 1974.

A shared global vision

Globally, the Ronald McDonald House Charities programs support families by providing stability and the vital resources they need to focus on what’s most important – their child. The organisation supports family-centred care by enhancing the child and family’s hospital experience, providing families with emotional and physical comfort and support, and improving the family’s coping and cohesion during the child’s recovery.

As well as our 12 Houses across the UK there are also three Houses separately run by independent charities. These are Ronald McDonald House Glasgow, Ronald McDonald House Bristol and Ronald McDonald House Alder Hey.

Ronald McDonald House Charities today

In the intervening years, Ronald McDonald House Charities has spread across the world, supporting families with programmes and services in more than 64 countries and regions. McDonald’s has been the RMHC Mission Partner ever since the first Ronald McDonald House was built in Philadelphia in 1974. Ronald McDonald House Charities UK run 12 Ronald McDonald Houses and since 1989 we have helped 50,000 families.

Meet our co-founder: Dr Audrey Evans

Born in 1925, Dr Audrey Evans was one of very few women studying medicine in the 1940s. Today, Dr Audrey Evans is recognised as a world-renowned paediatric oncologist and researcher of neuroblastoma, a cancer affecting babies and children. In the 1960s, she was recruited by Dr C Everett Koop to open an oncology service at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Dr Audrey and her team began to see patients from a greater distance, not just from Philadelphia. It was this experience that sparked her vision to give families a place to live whilst their children are undergoing treatment.

It makes me feel wonderful.

What a wonderful thing to be able to look back on.

Dr. Audrey Evans, 2014

If you can spare a little to help keep our Houses running please donate what you can.

Read some of the family stories from those who have stayed in our UK Houses

Everything went downhill within hours: Elsie’s story

16th May 2022

Guest blogger: Katie Everything was fine. We had a quick labour at the Wallingford Birthing Centre. It was then when we took her home, about…

Read more

We knew immediately it would give us a space to reflect: Jessica’s story

16th May 2022

Guest blogger: Victoria Jessica was born at 29 plus two weeks gestation at our local hospital. After initial routine x-rays, she was found to have…

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We leave with a happy heart: Luca’s story

16th May 2022

Guest blogger: Katie The circumstances which led us to Ronald McDonald House Manchester were every new parent’s worst nightmare. After a trouble-free pregnancy, and at…

Read more