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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!

2019 saw many changes to our committed volunteer trustees. Sadly in mid-January 2019 Gemma resigned as a member of the Board of Trustees due to personal commitments, but she returns for 2020 ready to help us grow further. Like Gemma, Tom resigned as a Trustee after 9 months of support, with personal circumstances meaning that the additional strain & responsibility of being an official trustee was just too much. Kim sadly followed with a resignation at the beginning of December, but continues to offer her support for the charity and remaining trustees. 

2020 continues to bring changes to the structure of the charity. Gemma came back as a member of the Board in January, and Natasha resigned from her position on the Board of Trustees in March 2020 (with effect from May 2020) due to increased commitments in her personal life. We have, however, acquired some new trustees. Dean Johnson joins us after offering many years of support and enabling the Family Hub to become a reality, alongside Margaret, Estelle, Michelle and Karen.

Meet the Team

Anita Marinelli


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.




Managing Director at Signs and Imaging.

Loves eating out and BBQs in the summer.

Dean started out his career as a DJ at the early age of 13. He worked the business with mobile discos, then into bigger nightclubs and eventually working large corporate events.


Dean has supported Anita and the team since Ruby's campaign, helping to promote the fundraising efforts by providing personalised designs from his company 'Signs & Imaging'. Dean continued this support when the charity started, using his business contacts and awareness to help generate funds and awareness wherever he can. 


Dean and his team have been absolutely vital in turning the  MSS Community Hub from a dream into a reality, and he has given up so much of his own time and money to make it an incredible place to support our families. It was a natural progression for him to turn this love for the charity's work into ongoing support as an official trustee.


Dean describes himself as a fun and loving character, and the Board of Trustees totally agree. He believes we only have one chance at life, and we cannot take it too seriously; life has to be enjoyed. This understanding of making every second count makes him an absolutely perfect addition to the team as he understands more than anyone how important our job is.

Dean has two mad Labradors, Ozzy and Chester, who he loves to chill out with at home, alongside his supportive wife. He loves nothing more than chilling, occasionally playing on the XBox, and the odd Sambucca, Jaegerbomb or Jack Daniels every now and again. 


caroline graham


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.




Facilities Services Team Leader for a national bank.

Enjoys photography, kayaking and is quite simply obsessed with Chewbacca from Star Wars. 

Gemma grew up in the Medway Towns . In 2014 Gemma was running a successful events management company and offered her services to the Ruby Laura Young campaign (run by Anita). As a mother herself, Gemma felt deeply sympathetic to the situation the Young family faced, and she was inspired by the fundraising on both Facebook and Twitter. Gemma quickly became more personally involved with Anita and the campaign, offering brilliant support as well as invaluable links to local suppliers during the fundraising journey. 

Gemma became a Founding Trustee of My Shining Star in 2016, after supporting Anita for over two years. She took a step down from her role on the Board throughout 2019 due to personal commitments, but we were thrilled when she decided to rejoin the team for 2020.


With years of experience in Facilities Management and in Event Management, Gemma was honoured to join the My Shining Star Team. Gemma currently specialises in Health & Safety in her role, as well as events and staff management. Gemma is eager to build her portfolio to include web design and has already attended a short photography/videography course to enable the charity to grow further. 


Having networked for many years over multiple industries, Gemma is an invaluable member of the team. She is extremely resourceful and often organises teams of volunteers to help with fundraising and support. 

Gemma lives with her son, Joe, who is always willing to lend a hand at events.