Ryan splashes out in Spain with Starlight

Ryan Shirlow

07/09/11 – Ten year old Ryan Shirlow from Coleraine in County Londonderry has had his wish to go on holiday somewhere warm where he can swim granted by Starlight Children’s Foundation, the UK’s leading wish granting charity for children with serious and terminal illnesses. 

In May 2009, Ryan was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia, which is a life-threatening condition that can occur in children.  To fight the disease, brave Ryan was prescribed three years of gruelling chemotherapy and has had to spend a lot of time in hospital and away from his family and friends.

Ryan has a brother and two sisters and it was his eldest sister, Caelah, who first heard about Starlight and contacted the charity to see if a once-in-a-lifetime wish could be granted for Ryan.  When he was referred to Starlight his mum Bronagh told us “Ryan is a thoughtful, caring and considerate boy, who has faced his illness with amazing strength and attitude. 

“He never complains about his situation but I know it frustrates him that he can’t do everything that his friends do.  He talks often about giving us all a holiday when he’s better, somewhere warm where he can swim in clean water and he says he’ll save all his pocket money until he’s finished treatment.  I want to ensure that I give Ryan every opportunity to enjoy life and take every chance I can to put a smile on his face.”

Ryan sent Starlight a drawing of a little boy diving in to a swimming pool and said, “My wish is to go somewhere warm with nice clean swimming pools where I can swim.”  The charity arranged for his parents, Colin and Bronagh, his brother Colin, his sisters Shanae and Caelah and Caelah’s boyfriend Richard to go to the beautiful Spanish resort of Santa Uelalia. 

As Ryan is unable to swim in a shared pool because of his condition, Starlight had organised for Ryan and his family to have a private villa with its own pool, where they together could enjoy swimming and basking in the glorious sunny weather.  

On their return, Bronagh said, “Our holiday was absolutely fantastic!  We all had a lovely time but, most importantly, Ryan had a ball!! He was in the pool first thing every morning and had to be coaxed out every evening.  It was just so lovely to see the smile on his face every day and to have that very much-needed family time. I can’t thank everyone at Starlight enough – we will remember this forever!”


Contact: Henny Breakwell
Email: henny@starlight.org.uk
Tel: 020 7262 2881 #231

Starlight grants once-in-a-lifetime wishes for seriously and terminally ill children, restoring the magic and fun of childhood and giving the whole family happy memories to share, whatever the future holds.

Starlight also creates entertainment in every hospital and hospice throughout the UK. Sick children go to Starlight parties, laugh their way through pantomimes, go out on Starlight Escapes, play games and watch films on the Starlight Fun Centre, and enjoy the toys and puzzles of the Starlight Distraction Box. Happy children respond better to treatment and Starlight helps children to forget about their illness and simply have a bit of fun.

You can make a donation online or by calling us on 020 7262 2881. For every £1 you donate, Starlight can assure you that over 91p goes towards helping very ill children. To refer a child for a wish, simply complete our wish referral form.