AN AWARD scheme recognising the courage of children and young people diagnosed with cancer has been launched.

Supported by celebrity chef, Jean-Christophe Novelli, who knows first-hand the devastating impact of cancer after his youngest son, Valentino, was diagnosed with the disease in 2016 at just six-weeks-old.

The experience is driving the dad-of-four to back the Cancer Research UK for Children and Young People Star Awards, in partnership with TK Maxx.

With around 85 children diagnosed with cancer every year in Wales, he and his partner Michelle are calling on families across the nation to nominate young cancer patients and survivors in the run up to Christmas.

The Star Awards are open to under-18s who have been diagnosed with the disease in the last five years.

There will be no judging panel due to Cancer Research UK for Children and Young People believing that every child diagnosed with cancer deserves special recognition.

Everyone nominated receives a trophy, £50 TK Maxx gift card, t-shirt and a certificate signed by a host of famous faces, including Jean-Christophe Novelli, Nanny McPheeactress Dame Emma Thompson, This Morning’s Dr Ranj and children’s TV favourite Mister Maker. Their siblings also receive a certificate.

Jean-Christophe watched little Valentino endure two years of intense treatment.

After Michelle spotted a lump on his neck during feeding, he was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, which is a rare cancer of nerve cells that mainly affects children under the age of five.

The cancer was stage four meaning it had spread around Valentino’s body.

The four-year-old is now cancer-free, but his terrifying journey has made his parents determined to do everything they can to raise vital awareness of what children with cancer face and the importance of research into new treatments.

Chef Jean-Christophe, said: “Michelle and I were not really aware of children’s cancers – it was a new area for us, but then you hear the word and it gets locked in your mind, you don’t know what is going to come next.

“We were in bits and almost four years on, things will come to me and I will have a flashback even now.

“But we have been fortunate and we thank God we live in the UK with the amazing NHS.

“Knowing what Valentino went through when we heard about the Star Awards we had no hesitation to get involved immediately.

“They are such a great way to show these amazing children how special they are. “Now we want to help spread the word, so that across Wales as many children affected by cancer as possible have the opportunity to be nominated and can receive the acknowledgement they so richly deserve.”

Cancer in children and young people is different to cancer in adults, from the types of cancer, to the impact of treatment, which is why Cancer Research UK for Children and Young People is supporting dedicated research to improve survival.

Cassandra Miles, Cancer Research UK spokesperson for Wales, said: “A cancer diagnosis is heart-breaking at any age, but it can be particularly difficult for a child or young person and their families, especially when many of those who survive may experience serious long-term side effects from their treatment.

“Our Star Awards shine an important light on these inspirational youngsters, so we’re urging people to get nominating now so we can celebrate their incredible courage.”

The Star Awards are run in partnership with TK Maxx, the biggest corporate supporter of Cancer Research UK’s work into children’s and young people’s cancers.

Since 2004, the retailer has raised over £40 million for the charity.

Over £37m of this total has supported research to help ensure more children and young people survive cancer with a good quality of life.

To nominate a Star, visit