Luella adds some sparkle to Starlight!

Starlight Children’s Foundation are excited to announce that we have teamed up with iconic fashion brand, Luella!

To celebrate the launch of the partnership Luella released a new and exclusive design. The iconic Luella Sequin Star t-shirt in navy is available now, with £10 from every sale donated to Starlight.

Make sure you pop into Luella’s sister retail stores, Sassy & Boo, as they are offering Luella designs created exclusively for Starlight from August 2020.

We are proud to partner with Starlight to help them reduce the isolation and anxiety that serious illness and long hospital stays bring to the families they work with. We hope that our customers will feel good inside, knowing that their purchase comes with that extra sense of purpose.

Alison Townshend, Owner and Founder of Luella

We are so excited for this partnership as the money raised from the sale of the Luella t-shirts will help Starlight during this crucial time when families and children are more isolated than ever.

At Starlight, family is very important to us. We aim to reduce the long-term impact of serious illness for children and their families by providing play and entertainment. The partnership with Luella will help us continue our vital work, especially during these currently very challenging times for children on hospital wards.

Cathy Gilman, Starlight CEO

Starlight co-founder Emma Samms and friend of Starlight, Beverley Knight are just two of our supporters who have put on the sequins in aid of Starlight! If you would like to buy one of these fabulous tops and support Starlight, please visit Luella Fashion.

Starlight’s Bolstered Boost Boxes!

This month we have been providing a bolstered version of our Boost Box to hospitals. These tool kits help reduce anxiety for children isolated in hospital. Thanks to support from Ryman and their suppliers we have been able to add additional items! Our ‘boosted’ Boost Boxes include Crayola glitter markers, crafting gifts from Crafters Companion, Stabilo, Acco and BiC colouring pencils and Curious Universe colouring books and notepads from Artcoe. Lots of materials for arts and crafts fun!

Despite an expected £1.5 million drop in fundraising income, an estimated 50,000 children in hospital could be reached during the pandemic.

Children’s wards have been taken over by Coronavirus treatment, children are being moved to new wards, with new nurses, new faces, at a time when they are already feeling overwhelmed and scared. Social distancing is happening in hospitals too, with playrooms closed and visiting times have been reduced – sometimes to as little as one parent for an hour a day. There is a growing feeling of fear and isolation as children’s access to play is being withdrawn, making Starlight’s individual play items from Boost Boxes needed more than ever. As the nation starts to have restrictions lifted, hospitals may see an increase in admissions from families who have previously been staying away due to Coronavirus.

These are unprecedented and unnerving times… with this greater need, we are grateful to Ryman for their support meaning we can reach even more children isolated in hospital.

Starlight partner Ryman, and its suppliers are stepping in to ensure the charity can reach more children by providing additional items for isolation packs, packs made up of single use items to help stop cross infection. Starlight deliver to nurses and health play specialists caring for children throughout the NHS across the UK. Last year, Ryman supported Starlight during their annual celebration of ‘Play in Hospital Week’, an awareness week to shine a light on the importance of play for children in hospital.

These are unprecedented and unnerving times. Across the UK, we are all trying to cope with being cut-off from family and friends, perhaps worrying about the health of loved ones, and uncertain about what the future holds.

Dr Chris Evans, NHS Paediatric Anaesthetist and Starlight Trustee

He continues, “As an NHS paediatric anaesthetist, I can tell you that we are getting a glimpse of how hard life is for a seriously ill child and their family. It is emotionally demanding and physically draining, day in, day out. But things have become even more challenging for these families in recent weeks. However, with this greater need, we are grateful to Ryman for their support meaning we can reach even more children isolated in hospital.”

As we all face new and different challenges, we look to where we can help, and that is why, Ryman, along with our suppliers, is pleased to be supporting children’s charity, Starlight, helping to fill their isolation packs and bring some relief to isolated children in hospitals. We all now have a small understanding of the positive impact a little distraction and entertainment can have when we are isolated, separated from family and facing a worrying time

Theo Paphitis, Ryman chairman

Isaac’s Monaco Moment!

This time last year Starlight whisked a group of families to Monaco for a once-in-a-lifetime experience at the Monaco Grand Prix.

This weekend also marks another very special anniversary – a year out of treatment for Isaac! Isaac was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia at the age of nine and had undergone several years of treatment. Last year, he took his final chemotherapy tablet on the very same day he travelled to Monaco for his Starlight wish.

Sports-crazy Isaac loves tennis, football and especially running. Isaac’s biggest passion however is Formula 1; his family even have a tradition of cooking the food from the country hosting every Formula 1 race throughout the year!

The trip was an extremely poignant moment for Isaac and his Dad, who joined him on the trip, as it signified the end of a long and difficult journey, as well as the start of his future, cancer-free. A year on the family are celebrating by fundraising for the charities who helped Isaac on his journey.

Starlight have taken families to Monaco for the past decade, they are a well-known throughout the race weekend and are always warmly welcomed by the whole community. The families get to meet all their favourite drivers in the pit lanes and join the Sky Sports team for interview on the Red Bull Energy Station.

Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia is one of the most common diagnosis of children that Starlight work with. Starlight’s aim is to preserve childhood through serious illness and treatment – offering families opportunities to escape the routine and reality of living with a serious illness and enjoy time as a family!

While unfortunately we cannot be there this weekend, the Monaco Grand is going ahead virtually this year and to celebrate there is a Starlight auction with racing memorabilia and exclusive experiences up for grabs! To bid on an item or donate to Starlight, click the link below.

Logan’s Wish Still Causing A Splash!

During these difficult times we have all had to adapt to a life confined to our homes. However, for some of our families this has much larger implications. The Franco-Franklin family are a Starlight family made up of Mum, Dad, Logan (11), Leo (6) and Phoebe (3). Logan and Leo both have a very rare gene deletion which effects their cognitive development and means neither of the boys have ever spoken a word, relying on their parents for their every need.

Logan and Leo often live in their own worlds. They won’t watch a movie, can’t play video games so it can be a hard task to keep them occupied. However, Logan loves being in water! He used to spend time splashing around in the bathroom, often resulting in flooding the house.

Logan’s wish of a hot tub was granted by Starlight in February 2019. Since having the hot tub it has transformed family time. The warm water and the bubbles appeal to his senses and stimulate his muscles – he can splash as much as he likes!

Logan can sometimes be in a lot of pain and it is emotionally and physically draining for my wife and I, especially if he is having a bad day, Logan can have meltdowns and self-harm by scratching his face and flicking his ears – the hot tub can help calm him down and take his mind off the pain.

Logan is often the last one to be taken out and sits in the middle of the hot tub so it’s the hardest place to reach him to get him out. When he is in the hot tub he never stops smiling and making vocalisations. Family time is a lot of fun in the hot tub, splashing and playing with the bubbles, listening to music, and Leo loves the LED lights in the evening.

In the current lockdown Logan’s wish has been a godsend and I can’t honestly think of a better wish we could have asked for.  You only have to look at the photos to see what a difference your donations make to children like Logan. You are helping make dreams like Logan’s a reality, brightening his life and allowing him to be a little boy, which means so much to us as a family. Please keep donating to this amazing charity and the wonderful people that run it, I hope you liked our story.

Malcolm, Logan's dad

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Starlight delivers a boost to those in need!

Over the past two weeks, working hard with our partners at Tobar Toys, we have been able to continue our distribution of almost 100 Distraction Boxes and 200 Boost Boxes to Health Professionals across the country, providing vital resources to entertain, distract and comfort children in hospitals.

We know that Health Play Specialists and our other NHS colleagues up and down the country are doing invaluable work in light of these uncertain times, and we at Starlight are proud to be continuing our services to those on the frontline!

In these uncertain times it is essential that children and young people in hospital or healthcare settings are still provided with the opportunity for play and recreation.

Now more than ever, play is so important not only to help with routine procedures in hospitals, but to ease the anxieties of children amidst the virus.

We have been receiving feedback from healthcare workers across the country about the importance of continuing to provide play and recreation opportunities for children in hospital, and the importance of single use play items.

In these uncertain times it is essential that children and young people in hospital or healthcare settings are still provided with the opportunity for play and recreation. Even if they are in isolation, they can still have play provided for them. The items in the Boost Boxes from Starlight are ideal as the patients get to keep them, so there isn’t the fear of them being put back into a playroom, which could spread infection.

Health Play Specialist

Thank you so much to all of the healthcare workers going above and beyond in the NHS. Your compassion and expertise are more important than ever, and we are proud to support you!

Zachary’s New Friend

Chloe’s son, Zachary, has been in and out of hospital since he was born. She was at the hospital waiting for another one of his regular appointments when she was struggling to settle him in. She was getting stressed and other people around her were clearly waiting for her to move. Seeing this, a passing member of team Starlight came over and gave him a cuddly toy lion from the Starlight Boost Box and he immediately settled down. Her little boy was only ten months old, but he could cling onto the mane!

The lady from Starlight saved me from a very stressful day and it was so lovely, she is obviously a credit to your cause

Chloe reached out to Starlight to say her son hadn’t stopped holding the lion since he was given it and that her and Zachary were going to set up a collection for Starlight at Zachary’s first birthday party a month later! Chloe set up a fundraising page, a raffle for her community, and made sweet bags to sell at the party with all proceeds to be donated to Starlight.

They ended up raising an incredible £1200 through their efforts. Speaking of her donation, Chloe said, “The whole community has actually helped raise this so I’m very happy.”

Thank you so much to Chloe and Zachary (one of Starlight’s youngest ever fundraisers!) you are helping Starlight reach even more families across the UK to provide comfort and distraction throughout hospital treatment.

Cara scores a meeting with Stevie G!

Cara from Shropshire had a day she’ll never forget as she came face to face with her idol, Steven Gerrard!

Cara was diagnosed in January with a rare type of soft tissue cancer. She is football crazy and her favourite player has been Stevie G ever since he played for her favourite team, Liverpool FC so it was no surprise that Cara’s wish was to meet her hero, Gerrard, in real life.

On the day, Cara and Steven spoke about all things football, from who his favourite team were to play, how he got into football, being a manager and a dad. As Cara is a coach herself, she was desperate to pick the managers brain, and Steven even gave her some coaching tips and offered to send her some of his own session plans!

Cara was so happy she got to meet Gerrard, describing the wish as ‘perfect’ and saying he was so nice in real life!

Technology trial reduces isolation

We are so excited to announce that the pilot of Starlight’s new hospital service is underway, using robotic technology called AV1!

AV1 robots minimise the impact of being isolated during serious illness, which can have great effect on a child’s mental health. The technology works by placing the robot where the child would usually be, whether that be at home, at school or with friends. The child can then control the robot via a tablet to interact with the environment by listening, talking, moving and showing expressions. We are excited to be venturing into more technological methods of reaching children in hospitals around the UK.

The AV1 robots were initially tested at the end of last year during performances of Starlight’s touring pantomime. The AV1 robots allowed children isolated in hospital to watch and interact with the pantomime performance from their bed. ‘No Isolation’, the creators of AV1 believe that in the UK more than 72,000 children are missing out on their childhood due to long-term illness.

In one case a young girl was unable to leave her room and was very stressed due to ongoing investigations into her symptoms, but she was able to watch the show using the AV1 robot and it provided a huge distraction for her, allowing her time to forget her fears and laugh and be a child!

Following the initial test during the Pantomime tour we observed improvements in children’s mood, engagement and wellbeing after using AV1

The AV1 robot minimises the impact of isolation during serious illness and early research has shown improvements in children’s mood, engagement and wellbeing after using the telepresence robot. We’re excited to see the results of long-term use!

Christmas comes to Starlight

At Starlight we help seriously ill children and their families create magical memories year-round, but it is especially important at this festive time of year. That’s why we’ve had a jam-packed schedule of incredible Starlight Escapes, wish trips and hospital services to provide unforgettable moments of festive fun this Christmas!

First up was Starlight’s 10th annual Christmas Party, where over 100 guests arrived at a venue fit for royalty for a children’s party like no other! Hosted by Hampton Court Palace, guests stepped into a winter wonderland complete with a giant snow globe, reindeer and sleigh! Inside they were treated to face painting, entertainment, disco dancing and, of course, Santa’s grotto!

Children like Logan can’t do the everyday things people take for granted. Everything at a Starlight Escape is geared towards different abilities and everyone can join in. It’s amazing, everyone at Starlight makes you feel so welcome. It’s like an extended family.

Malcom, Logan's dad

Meanwhile 13 families spent three days searching for Santa on our group wish trip to Lapland. They began their search with reindeer and husky rides through the snow-covered forests to look for clues. With a little help from the special Lapland elves, they found Santa’s Post office and saw just how everyone’s letters from across the world are delivered to Lapland. Finally, after a thrilling snow mobile ride to the elves’ house, they found the man himself!

Five-year-old Sebastian has had a tough few years of treatment after being diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a brain tumour that starts in the lower part of the brain. He loves animals and his Starlight wish was to see huskies and Santa’s reindeer in the wild.

When we were referred for a wish we were in the middle of treatment and were having a really tough time. Starlight were able to support us as a family and give us something to look forward to. It has been unbelievable. We are so grateful to be here in this beautiful place together with other wonderful families going through similar things to us. We will never forget it, so thank you.

Abigail's Mum

Back in the UK, our Starlight’s touring pantomime are transporting children in hospital and hospices across the country to a whole new world with their production of Aladdin. This year there will be an estimated 200,000 children spending the Christmas period in hospital. Starlight’s magical tale of the rags-to-riches prince and his wish-granting genie aims to provide children with a chance to escape the reality of their hospital stay and join in with the festive fun they may otherwise be missing.

Thank you to everyone who has donated, fundraised or supported Starlight in 2019. You have helped bring festive joy to seriously ill children and their families and we could not do it without you.

Donate to Starlight

Your donation will help Starlight support seriously ill children in the UK

Could help Starlight deliver a pantomime for children in hospital

£

From everyone here at Starlight we wish you all a very merry Christmas!