What We Do

Harris with his teddy‘STAR for Harris’ is passionate about supporting the treatment of childhood cancer as we know from our own personal experience, what it is like for your child to undergo such gruelling treatment, sometimes continually staying in hospital whilst the family’s life is turned upside down and the future is completely uncertain.

In supporting treatment, we have so far:

  • established a twice weekly music therapy programme for oncology children at the RHSC Edinburgh
    given £13000 towards a sat-nav that is now being used for guiding brain surgery at Edinburgh’s Sick Kids Hospital
  • provided gifts for children going into isolation due to intense treatment or because they are receiving a bone marrow transplant
  • funded research into Medulloblastoma (aggressive brain tumour) at the Northern Centre for Cancer Research in Newcastle
  • donated a wide range of resources for the oncology & neurology wards including giving musical instruments, electronic resources, a pram/travel system, arts & crafts and several television/DVD combos
  • given a television/DVD combo to Clic Villa along with a selection of DVDs


We also aim to awareness raise about the reality of childhood cancer. With 1 in 300 boys and 1 in 330 girls being diagnosed with cancer during childhood and, as we know that early diagnosis does save lives, it is vital that we are all cancer aware. Think of the difference the meningitis campaign made in increasing survival chances. Again, we know from our own experience that it is important for parents to be aware of possible symptoms. Harris wasn’t referred for a scan until he was critically ill. He had already seen numerous doctors and yet, none of them had identified that he was ticking what we now know to be the list of brain tumour indicators. So please, be aware.

In raising awareness we have:

  • funded for 1 million ‘Be Child Cancer Aware’ cards to be distributed throughout Scotland (for information on BCCA, visit www.bechildcanceraware.org
  • paid for several hundred thousand of the HeadSmart cards and education packs to be distributed (for more information on HeadSmart, visit http://www.headsmart.org.uk)
  • helped facilitate 2 medical conferences
  • set up this web page and a Facebook page to share childhood cancer stories & information
  • spoke out at a Fashion Show about Harris’s journey and the need for people to join the bone marrow register


The ‘STAR for Harris’ Music Initiative

Music InitiativeWe fund music therapy for children with cancer.  Harris loved music and I’d sing to him non-stop, he continually engaged in music based activities and attended a weekly music school class.  He would giggle and dance along whenever he heard music!

The ‘STAR for Harris’ music initiative runs twice weekly at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh.  We fund for the Nordoff-Robbins to go to the ward once a week where the children can attend a group therapy session or patients can work with the music therapist individually.  The Nordoff-Robbins also run a weekly session at the Drop In Centre at the RHSC so that patients who are not ward based can attend.  The therapists are guided by the ward staff for which patients they can work with and sessions can be personalised to meet the needs of the individual patient to tap into their particular interests. If your child is being treated for cancer and you are based in or around Edinburgh, please come along!

Why is music therapy valuable?
Studies and reports voice many benefits of providing musical experiences and therapy for such ill patients.  This has been recognised by many hospitals throughout the world that currently facilitate such practice.

Benefits detailed include:

  • Reduced anxiety levels, particularly during treatment times
  • Reduced cortisol levels (hormone related to stress) evident for patients who had opportunities for music exposure
  • Improved quality of life
  • Some patients requiring less medication to deal with symptoms such as nausea and pain etc.
  • Added opportunities to reflect and discuss their journey and emotions (when working with a music therapist)


Links to studies:


The feedback has been amazingly positive! Some of the families that were in hospital with Harris are still on the ward and as we are close to them, we’ve been able to hear first-hand how much they’ve enjoyed it.

Medical Conferences

Harris’s specialist team from Edinburgh led two medical conferences using his story with the purpose of highlighting the need for early diagnosis and detailing the treatment of brain tumours. The conferences were attended by a range of health professionals that included GPs, hospital based doctors, nurses and health visitors. The feedback from healthcare professionals was very positive and they liked having the conference facilitated through a real story.

Gifts for Clic Villa

Victoria (centre) with Mandy and Olive from Clic Villa

Victoria (centre) with Mandy and Olive from Clic Villa

Clic Villa in Edinburgh is a home from home for many families of children being treated for cancer at the Sick Kids. We lived there continually for 10 months. We gifted Clic Villa with a new TV/DVD combo and a wide selection of DVDs and these were hand delivered by Harris’s ward friend, Victoria and her mummy Vera. Victoria has recently finished treatment for Leukaemia.

Resources for the Ward

Allan with Liz, auxiliary nurse and Helen, play therapist at Edinburgh's Sick Kids oncology ward with a delivery of gifts

Allan with Liz, auxiliary nurse and Helen, play therapist at Edinburgh's Sick Kids oncology ward with a delivery of gifts

As many children spend long days being treated on the ward, it is vital that they have resources available to stimulate, entertain and motivate them. We have provided the RHSC in Edinburgh with several television/DVD combos, musical based activities and VTech electronic games consoles, electronic book readers and a range of VTech games, board games, arts and crafts resources and pram travel systems. We have also donated toys to Aberdeen’s Children’s Hospital.

£13,000 towards Sat-nav

Harris’s Neurosurgeon, Jerard Ross being presented with the cheque by Harris’s parents, Tanya and Allan Ross

Harris’s Neurosurgeon, Jerard Ross being presented with the cheque by Harris’s parents, Tanya and Allan Ross

By the time our darlin’ Harris was transferred to Edinburgh, he had been ventilated as he was stopping breathing. He had hydrocephalus (accumulation of fluid around the brain) caused by his growing brain tumour. As soon as he arrived in Edinburgh, he went straight into brain surgery, firstly to alleviate the hydrocephalus and then to remove as much of the tumour as possible. Harris was only 7 months old when he underwent brain surgery. He had an incredible surgeon whom we had immediate confidence in. We found out that Harris’s surgeon wanted to buy a Sat-Nav for guiding brain surgery and we jumped at the chance to support this. The Sat-Nav is already being used at the Sick Kids and not just for children with cancer.

Gifts for Children Going into Isolation

Lana with her gifts

Lana with her gifts received when she was in isolation at Yorkhill Hospital to receive a bone marrow transplant

Children getting a bone marrow transplant or getting a stem cell transplant after intense chemotherapy, face months in isolation. Everything in their room needs to be able to be sterilised to limit the chances of the child with no immune system from picking up what could be life threatening infections. We provide sets of gifts for children enduring such treatment. Gifts are personalised for the child with the parents being asked to tell us the child’s age, favourite characters and preferred toys. So far, gifts have included lego, toy cars, VTech games consoles, Kindles, electronic books, DVDs, jig-saws, musical activities and plastic toy sets such as Fireman Sam Fire Stations etc.

Also have a look at related newspaper articles in our news and events pages.


At ‘STAR for Harris’ we feel passionate about funding research with the aim of improving treatment protocols and survival rates for children battling cancer. Unfortunately, current treatment protocols have progressed very little and leave children with lifelong side effects. We want to do everything we can to help improve survival chances. Presently, 3 in 10 children will not survive childhood cancer and that is far too many. We are proud to have teamed up to fund research into Medulloblastoma, an aggressive brain tumour with a team from the Institute of Cancer Research in Newcastle.

1 Comment to “What We Do”

  • [...] Allan and Tanya continue to demonstrate that strength and courage, and Harris’ memory lives on through the charity they set up in his name. STAR for Harris was set up to help raise awareness and support treatment of childhood cancers, and although the charity is only a few years old, it has already done some truly amazing work. [...]