Ivy and Noah


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Almost a year after Ivy’s Starlight Wish.

This time last year, Ivy was in the hospital.

Sick and miserable and unsure if she was going to  make it to her ballet concert -

we spent a lot of time focusing on all of the good things in life.

Concentrating on things that made Ivy feel happy.

Of those, was the most looked forward to event of the year.

Ivy’s Starlight Wish.

This was not a wish made lightly by the small girl

who took her time and dreamt big

and finally announced that her wish was to dance with The Australian Ballet at The Opera House.

It was a very big wish for a tiny dancer

but  The Starlight Children’s Foundation made it happen

and Ivy’s wish came true.

Still today, when there are terrible days in the hospital

when there are times that are just too much

we think about the wish

and use its memory to get us through.

So this year, when Starlight approached me to ask if Ivy would  be ‘the face’ of their Christmas campaign

I said yes.

How could I not?

Starlight has been a part of our journey for as long as I can remember.

The Captains at John Hunter Children’s Hospital would often bring joy and laughter

into our room.

Sometimes sitting with Ivy and I while we waited for surgery,

often leaving stickers and messages to brighten our day.

This year when we were in the hospital for eight weeks

they helped to decorate Ivy’s room with streamers for Easter

and made bonnets.

There is a Starlight room, that all of the other kids have visited

so they could have down time from the hospital setting,

so they could just relax and be kids.

The Captains are the happiness makers on days when there feels like there is none left

so it seemed like an opportunity to give a little back when we were asked.


This is the poster that you might see, if you happen to be at Sydney airport.

Both domestic an international terminals.

You can’t miss them – they’re quite huge.


There are also donation boxes in all of the stores inside the airport, with the same photo.

On Thursday we were all lucky enough to be invited to the official launch of the campaign

and I was able to speak about the importance of a wish.

We set off early for the airport

and one of the first things we saw on arrival was Ivy’s poster,

by the massive Christmas tree at the international terminal.

All of the kids were pretty excited to see it,

especially the girl

and just quietly I was too – I get a real kick seeing one of my photos in print.

We met some of the the  lovely Starlight people

and soon after we met Peter – the man who manages the mammoth task of running the international terminal.

Starlight had organised for our family to have a tour.


Peter is the most passionate man I have ever met when it comes to his job.

Imagine the time management skills you would need to run a place like an airport.

Noah and Mal were in heaven.

Noah asked a million questions, imparted his extensive (for an almost seven year old) knowledge about aircraft on Peter,

who took it all in his stride and answered every single ask

and explained things in intricate detail.

The last area we toured was the Operations Centre.


All of the kids, Dave and I loved that

and Noah declared that he was done for the day and would just stay where he was.

He was as happy as a pig in mud.

His mind exploding with new possibilities of becoming a pilot

or even running the place, just like his new hero, Peter.

We had to keep moving though as we still had a full and exciting day ahead.

We were ushered into a VIP room – one where all the celebrities stay to freshen up before they exit the terminal.

Lily was excited to hear that One Direction (the boy band) had stayed in the very same room.

Ivy thought that was pretty special too.

We said goodbye to Peter

and got to know Steph and Sophie – our beautiful new friends from Starlight, a little better.

Such kind women, who truly believe in Starlight Children’s Foundation and all that they do for the kids.

Steph had a soft spot for Noah (which was lucky because Noah most definitely felt the same way about her).

Before we knew it, it was time to go outside for the launch.

The beauty of Starlight is that no matter how serious the task, it is always for the kids

and this was no exception.

The Australian Girls Choir was there, singing Christmas carols

and Santa was there too.

The biggest drawcard for Ivy and Noah (and the older kids too)

were the Captains (sorry Santy).

As soon as Ivy and Noah saw the purple and gold uniforms

they were immediately drawn to them.

Captain Courageous and Captain Dash were kept busy making balloon animals and swords.

I often wonder what it would take to be the kind of person called into a position like that.

All of the Captains that I’ve met over the years seem to genuinely care about the kids.

They’re happy and easy going

and almost have a Peter Pan quality to them

which is most evident when you see the faces of the kids light up whenever there is a Captain around.


The collaboration between Sydney Airport and Starlight is huge.

Starlight are hoping to raise one million dollars to grant more wishes for seriously ill children over the Christmas period

and so I wanted my speech to show how good a wish, for a family like ours, could be.

I wanted everyone to see that it wasn’t only the wish itself but all of the planning and the memories that were important too.

My speech is here:


all 6 minutes and 40 seconds of it if you want to watch.

I’d like to say that everyone was struck silent as I retold our story but that isn’t the case.

When I asked Noah what he thought of my talk he said it was good

but the sword fight with Mal was better.


After all of the formalities

and photos

and giving thanks

and playing with the Starlight Star

we made our way over to Randwick Children’s Hospital to shoot some video footage for the campaign.

We had already met Captain Gigantor before

but Ivy is incredibly shy, especially in new environments

so he went straight to work, breaking the ice.

He is such a kind spirited man that it didn’t take long at all

and soon there was cheeky banter between the two about whether Rudolf’s nose was actually blue or orange

or green

or yellow.

Ivy was rolling her eyes and giggling

and looking at the Captain as if he were insane.

Of course Rudolf’s nose is red, everybody knew that.

While all of this was going on the vidiographer and her crew had been quietly seeting up in the room

and recording footage of the children playing.

Noah was thrilled to be recorded playing his heart out on the drum kit.

It really was very clever how they achieved the footage they wanted.

At one stage Captain Gigantor ran a game of ‘Simon Says’

to be able to shoot video of the kids laughing and being silly

It was pretty cool to watch.

Behind the scenes there were still activities and fun things happening all the time

and Ivy had a ball.

In actual fact, Ivy was in awe of all of the goings on in the Starlight room because it was the first time she had ever been in one.

The very nature of immune deficiency prevents her and she is always isolated in a hospital room.

The Captains come to visit her -

so this was a real treat.

Next up the crew needed specific footage and that’s where Ivy had to concentrate on words

and looking at the camera.


I loved that they included Noah in everything

and when Mal wanted to join in (after he’d had his fill of the play station) they invited him in too.

I have to say, for a shy little poppet, she did very very well

and I was so proud of her for using her big voice.

Things were going really well

until suddenly they just weren’t.

The girl had been running a fever in the morning

and my trusty Panadol-Neurofen cocktail had done it’s job well

until early afternoon

when Ivy declared she was very tired and not feeling so good.

Starlight were wonderful though

and we called it a day very soon after that.

It was an amazing day,

with so many new experiences.

Ivy did climb down from Dave’s arms for one last goodbye though

and then slept all the way home.

When she is having a good day, it’s easy to forget how sick she actually is.


I know that it’s Christmas time

and funds might be very tight

but if you’re able

I’d love you to consider donating to Starlight.

It’s largely because of people just like you,

that made Ivy’s wish a possibility.

Most of you all know Ivy’s story but you can see it here

and make a donation there too if you want.

There are opportunities for companies and friends to create a ‘crew’ and a goal to raise money too.

Out of all of this -

this opportunity,

this wonderful day

I’ve learnt how much it’s about the good hearted people in this world

who donate -

that make all of these wishes possible

and for that I’m very grateful

and want to say thank you.

From the very bottom of my heart -

Thank you.


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20 Responses to “Almost a year after Ivy’s Starlight Wish.”

  • Andrew:

    my turn to tear up! (and at work too!)
    Another beautifully told and illustrated story of a great day in your family, and how beautifully healthy and happy Ivy looked.
    Having followed your family since meeting Ivy at the Blood Bank function 2 years ago, and seeing the previous impact of Starlight Foundation on your lives, this is a fabulous story you have woven, and imaged so well – the expressions on the various Captains faces; the kids excitment and joy; even AJ allowing himself to be photographed; the incredible specialness of the day .

    great work Tiff, and donations on the way
    Andrew & Jenny

  • Maryam:

    Stop making me cry!!
    I love your family Tiff, may God bless it every single day with health, happiness, to every single one of your family members. I will do my best to donate.

  • maryg@alumni.uchicago.edu:

    Brilliant Tiff! I loved all of this…especially the 6:40 of your speech! Well done :) )
    As my SIL would say, ‘Way to go big girl!’

  • SassyCupcakes:

    It’s like she’s the fairy godmother of all the Starlight kids. :)

  • rachel:

    Gosh i had goosebumps from the first few lines of reading this….
    well done to you all for a wonderful day of paying it forward… awesome starlight… forever in many of our hearts

  • kat:

    Oh I love this post- Starlight foundation are amazing, so are your gorgeous family- :) I saw this range at Target online and thought of Ivy- a dancer can never have too many dancing dresses..

  • Amy:

    You spoke beautifully.

  • Mum:

    Such a delightful post and pictorial presentation to support Ivy’s & your advocacy for the wonderful charitable work accomplished by the Starlight Foundation.

    By enlisting Ivy’s & your help to launch their Christmas appeal, I think it can be assumed that Starlight’s target of a million dollars will surely be met, to bring the same happiness & joy to other chronically ill kids, like Ivy, and their families, to make wishes come true and leave memories to cherish always.

    You’ve certainly shown what an enjoyable day was had by all and how worthy of support is this wonderful charity.How can a donation not be forthcoming when such a gorgeous pic of Ivy smiling on the myriad posters, is so beautifully beguileing. :-) xoxo

  • Trish (587 comments.):

    So beautiful and such a wonderful cause. Your photos and words are magic.

  • Kathy:

    Beautiful post which had me tearing up again. So great to see Ivy full of smiles and looking so well. Great speech too Tiff.

    I’ll be at the airport on Friday so I’ll be on the lookout for Ivy’s poster.

  • Missy (1 comments.):

    I got such a lovely suprise to see Ivy’s gorgeous face on a poster at our local Video Store…I walked past and instantly recognised her!!
    Just beautiful x

  • Dianne:

    What a beautiful post. I love the look on your children’s faces as they experience such a special day. Thanks so much for sharing with us.

  • Kat (1 comments.):

    My heart exploded. Happy tears. :)

  • Immy:

    Wow. It’s hard to believe that the wish happened a whole year ago now. I guess it was one if those incredible days that was so magical and beautiful that it will always seem like only yesterday that it all unraveled.
    I love when we are invited to starlight events. It makes me feel as if we are family. Which I guess we are. All long lost relatives, connected by experiences and understanding and mostly hope, I think. Because when amazing things like that day happen, I am filled with nothing but hope. Hope for happiness, hope for smiles and laughter and overwhelming hope that everything is going to be okay and I think everyone else included feels the same.

    Your speech was perfect and you spoke so well. You captured the day of the wish perfectly and there were tears in the crowd. I’m so proud of you, every time you get up and tell Ivy’s story, our story.

    Starlight is the most amazing foundation, from the Captains to the granting of wishes. I’m so, so glad to be apart of it all.

  • Lisa:

    Oh. I cry.

  • Jackie:

    Wish I was going through Sydney airport! Awesome job Tiff.
    I can understand why it means so much to sick kids and their families.
    It’s a shame that there isn’t a Starlight Foundation for chronically ill adults with PID and other congenital disorders.

  • Jeanette (45 comments.):

    My word! What an amazing day!

  • Salz (2 comments.):

    What a great post and what a great thing is the Starlight foundation. loved it with a tear in my eye. i hope many more children get their wishes granted this year and the next and the next and so on. Your speech was perfect and ivy looks gorgeous. I’ll be at the sydney airport this weekend Ill keep an eye out for her posters.

  • Grace (4 comments.):

    You don’t know how happy it made me to see Ivy’s beautiful face smiling at me at Sydney International Airport. And yes, her gorgeous face is everywhere! Well done to Starlight for doing such amazing work. Big hugs to your little Ivy, Tiff xxx

  • Rosie T:

    So glad it was a great day…..thanks to each of you for sharing……for allowing others to accompany you on this journey. Love you all so much xoxox

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