Our Story

The trustees of the charity were involved with a campaign for a child diagnosed with Neuroblastoma, Ruby Laura Young, throughout 2015-2016, so have direct knowledge of the devastation caused, both emotionally and financially. We feel that there is a specific need to provide financial support in such situations, as there are too many children diagnosed every year in the UK, and not enough practical charitable support to help with everyday needs and expenses, such as; car park and hospital fees, food, accommodation, fuel, travel expenses, housing bills, mortgages/rent arrears, clothing, insurances, and any other expense need highlighted by the specific families we support.

 

If a parent is self-employed, for example, one parent could be permanently based in hospital during the treatment process, often for months at a time (upwards of three years), and the remaining parent will need to care for the remaining family members. This can result in loss of businesses and employment. Siblings are often left behind causing emotional stresses/damage, feelings of abandonment, anxiety, jealousy and fear. We feel there are many charities who focus on the child diagnosed, so we wish to focus on the family as a whole unit, providing more practical support wherever it may be required.

In November 2016 My Shining Star became officially registered with The Charity Commission. In early 2017 My Shining Star Children’s Cancer Charity was nominated at the local ‘Pride in Medway’ awards under the fundraising category. This was the first public recognition as a team, and since then the charity has gone from strength to strength. 

We were lucky enough at the end of 2018 to receive confirmation from Tom Luckett, our designer and media expert since 2017, that he wanted to accept our invitation to become our official Trustee for Media, Marketing and Design. This was followed shortly after by another acceptance of an invitation to become a trustee by Caroline Graham, our new official Trustee for Fundraising Management. Caroline has supported us since Ruby's campaign and done so much fundraising for us. It was meant to be!

Sadly in mid-January 2019 Gemma resigned as a member of the Board of Trustees due to personal commitments, but continues to support MSS.

Like Gemma, Tom resigned as a Trustee after 9 months of support. He remains our 'go-to' for all of our design and marketing work, and continues to support the charity, but personal circumstances meant that the additional strain & responsibility of being an official trustee was just too much. 

We will be advertising for new volunteers and trustees to join the team in early 2020, so watch this space and get in touch if you want to get involved!

Meet the Team

Anita Marinelli

FOUNDER, TRUSTEE AND PRESIDENT

Full Time Employee at My Shining Star.

Enjoys travelling and dreaming about her next holiday!

In Summer 2014 Ruby Laura Young, 2 year old daughter of Anita’s best friend, became gravely ill and was rapidly diagnosed with stage 4 Neuroblastoma, an aggressive form of childhood cancer. Anita felt compelled to support the family, having had her own daughter of the same age hospitalised for several months, and knowing how difficult the environment could be. The unexpected loss of Anita’s father in January 2014 left Anita devastated, and it made her realise personally how precious and fragile life is. Upon hearing that the family needed to raise £500,000 for potential vital treatment for Ruby in America, Anita took it upon herself to launch a campaign.

 

In Summer 2016, after reflecting on the success of Ruby’s fundraising journey, having won the local ‘Pride in Medway’ award, Anita had the realisation that there was so much more work to do. It became obvious that there were many thousands of families that did not have this kind of support, so Anita approached the other trustees with an inspirational idea to start a charity focussing on the financial strain that these families face day-to-day. These three volunteers stood out to Anita as being passionate, reliable and trustworthy, as well as outgoing and having a dedicated desire to helping others.

It was Anita’s idea for the charity to be named ‘My Shining Star’; with her father ever in the forefront of her mind, and considering how every parent feels about their own children, it seemed a perfect name. The logo is representative of a childhood symbol (the elephant) looking up to the stars heaven.

 

Anita’s strengths lie in social media, public relations and supporting the families directly, often getting to know the parents and children that the charity supports on a personal level. She provides necessary guidance and emotional support to many of the families that the charity encounters, not simply providing much needed financial structure.

KIM AKHURST

TRUSTEE, VICE PRESIDENT AND HONORARY TREASURER

Project Manager, UK Retailer.

Enjoys travelling and spending time with family. Kim loves fundraising and helping make a difference. 

In 2014 Kim joined Ruby’s campaign and very quickly became the person Anita could rely on to run Ruby’s Twitter campaign!

 

Kim became a Trustee of My Shining Star in 2016 after being inspired by the Ruby Laura Young campaign in 2014 and wanted to make a difference by helping families who are going through the traumatic experience of childhood cancer. She has always been a fantastic support and gave whatever time she could to Anita and to Ruby around her long office hours.

 

Kim has a successful job as a Project Manager for a large UK retailer, managing the IT installations for new stores, distribution centres, contact centres and refurbishments. Kim’s main role is facilitating the My Shining Star accounts alongside our registered accountant.

 

She lives in Rainham with her Partner Pete. Since joining the team Kim has realised that more than ever our time is precious so she has recently travelled to many places she has wanted to see for years. 

Natasha Armstrong

TRUSTEE, VICE PRESIDENT AND HONORARY GENERAL & MEETINGS SECRETARY

English Teacher in a local Church of England Academy.

Enjoys walking her Chocolate Labrador, Button, and spending time with family.

In November 2014 whilst her daughter attended Scallywags Nursery, Rainham, Natasha first heard about the ‘Help Ruby Laura Smash Cancer’ campaign, and shortly after met Anita and the other trustees in order to raise funds for Ruby’s cancer treatment.

 

Natasha grew up in Medway, and graduated from the University of Kent in July 2007 with a BA (Honours) degree in Law and Business Administration. In September 2007 she started working at a Church school in Gravesend, where she completed teacher training in 2009 to become an English Teacher. She has remained there since teaching children aged 11-19.

 

Natasha is wife to Bradley, Mum to Nancy who was born in 2012, and Jesse who was born in 2015.

 

In her spare time Natasha enjoys walking her Chocolate Labrador, Button, and spending quality time with family and friends.

 

This experience allows Natasha to bring a creative element to the charity as well as a good understanding of some of the struggles the children and families we support are facing. Natasha has always been a good all rounder, who will put her all into any aspect of the charity and the cause. If she doesn’t know how to do something, she will very quickly find out and master that skill! A real asset to My Shining Star.

caroline graham

TRUSTEE IN CHARGE OF FUNDRAISING MANAGEMENT

Stay At Home Mum​ and Cleaning Extraordinaire.

Loves spending time with her family. Caroline's two favourite things are cake and running!

Caroline moved to Medway from Worcester in 2004 after meeting her husband while working abroad. They married in 2007 and have three lovely children; Jacob 12, Maisie 8 and Sydney 3. They are Caroline’s world.

 

Caroline lives a few doors away from Ruby Laura and she helped where she could to raise vital funds towards her cancer treatment; helping run a cake stall with her sister-in-law at a large fundraiser and running the Great South Run amongst other things.

 

Caroline’s love for her children is the biggest drive to be a trustee. She considers herself lucky that her children are healthy. Caroline met Anita through their daughters attending school together, and she offered to volunteer whenever she could with MSS. Caroline has helped with coffee mornings, summer fundraisers and with the hugely successful Christmas event in 2017. Caroline describes it as such a humbling weekend seeing families touched by cancer and raising vital funds to help them.

 

Caroline loves to run, since a child doing cross country and athletics at school, it’s always been the thing she has turned to. It keeps her fit and when she needs some ‘me time’ it is just what she does. It seems that people recognise Caroline more for having running clothes and shoes on.

 

For Caroline it made sense that she would use her love for running to help fundraise for the charity. Amongst other events, she has run the Virgin London Marathon in 2018 and more recently the London Landmarks Half Marathon in 2019. She has no doubt that there will be more and more races where she will be proudly wearing the MSS vest.

CONTACT US

E: enquiries@myshiningstar.co.uk

T: 01634 362126

My Shining Star is a registered UK charity and company as recognised on Companies House,
(registered charity number 1170482 and registered company number CE009206).
Registered office: 9a High Street, Rainham, Kent. ME8 7HX.

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© 2018 My Shining Star.

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