Our Story

Once Upon a Smile was founded in 2011, by Daniel Jillings and Danny Miller to provide emotional and practical support to bereaved families after it became apparent that there was a lack of support for families after the death of a loved one.

Our charity is the only bereavement charity in the UK to offer a variety of support to families through such a difficult time, we understand that families are often left to grieve alone with no, or little support available and this can often have a devastating impact on family life and children

We identified many support agencies if a loved one was ill or had a terminal illness, but nothing for the family after the death. At this point we made our decision, the new charity was going to provide support to families that had suffered the loss of a loved one, and was going to specifically be an ‘after care’ for these families.


We decided that if they were going to do this then there needed to be some principles and they came up with 3:


It has to be long term support

It must be needed

The families must come first

So, we knew who we wanted to help, now all we had to decide was how we would help… amongst many other things.

We soon decided what help and support we would provide, quickly followed by the name of the charity, the committee members and finally the registering of the charity saw us ready to begin our journey…

Once Upon a Smile, a charity that provides support to families that have lost a parent or child, by financial and respite support was born…

Early on it was decided that Once Upon a Smile, would not be a charity that lived ‘hand to mouth’, we decided that we would spend 12 months fundraising without making our support commonly known, this would allow us to build up a foundation to our charity and enable the following:


To choose an ‘Assistance Fund’ every year and have those funds readily available.

If we had a poor fundraising year, we would still be able to access a large ‘Assistance fund’ to support our families.

Within our first 2 years, we became known as a national source of support to families throughout the UK.

In 2013 we became more involved with providing support to a number of educational authorities such as schools and colleges. We found that a large percentage of their referrals were seeking ‘counselling’, for their pupils, that had lost a parent or sibling.

We identified that as well as a severe lack of support of this kind available, there was often a large waiting list or a compulsory ‘grieving time’, prior to the children being offered support.

We were shocked at how children were not being offered the support they needed and the common rules that came with offering such support. In 2014 we launched our very own ‘Children’s Bereavement Support Groups’. These groups would be our 3rd arm of support along with the financial support and respite break options.

We are very lucky to have the support and help of many celebrity supporters since we founded. These supporters are recognised by us as Ambassadors, patrons or supporters who do not just put their name to the charity but are actively involved in the daily running of it.