We are delighted to learn that one of our Member Charities has been nominated as one of six finalists in the Outstanding Local Charities category in the MK Inspiration Awards and that the incredible woman who set up that charity is also a well-deserved finalist in the Inspiring Volunteer category.
Nicola Patel lost her 13-year-old son Shay to an aggressive glioblastoma (GBM) brain tumour in September 2020, despite the family seeking pioneering treatment abroad because of the lack of options available in the UK. Shay lived for less than two years after his diagnosis.
Nicola and her husband Deenu launched Shay’s Smiles (which Shay had been involved in planning before his death) to support families of children diagnosed with GBM with the cost of genetic testing, specialist doctors and providing care, as well as to fund vital research to find a cure for the devastating disease. Their first big challenge event involved 86 friends and family members scaling Mount Snowdon to mark the first anniversary of Shay’s death, raising a magnificent more than £54,000.
Already Shay’s Smiles has committed funding of £143,657 for a PhD student working over a four-year period within the team at the Brain Tumour Research Centre of Excellence at Queen Mary University of London developing new treatment strategies to inhibit the progression of GBM brain tumours especially in children.
As well as devoting energy to raising awareness and funding, Nicola is an active campaigner seeking to influence the Government and larger cancer charities to invest greater sums into finding a cure for the cancer which kills more children and adults under the age of 40. Nicola seeks to use TV and radio opportunities as a platform for the brain tumour cause and helps to galvanise the community to engage in petitions to increase investment and in campaigns like Stop the Devastation which was held last summer at music festivals across the UK.
To vote for Shay’s Smiles in the Outstanding Charity section go here and to vote for Nicola Patel in the Volunteer (Charity) section go here. Votes need to be cast before 1 July. Winners will receive their award at a spectacular, red carpet evening at the Jurys Inn in Milton Keynes on 9 July.
Good luck Shay’s Smiles and Nicola. We hope you get the recognition you deserve!
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