Anthony Nolan – the UK’s blood cancer charity and bone marrow register – has launched a star-studded advent calendar, which could cure blood cancer.
Every day until Christmas, Anthony Nolan will reveal one mystery star who has been #InspiredbyMillie and wants to say a few words about why you should do something amazing for a stranger during the season of goodwill.
Among the stars who have already been revealed are Sienna Miller, Dominic West, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Richard Branson, and many more.
Millie was inspiring. And she loved Christmas. That’s why, ten years after Millie died from Acute Myeloid Leukaemia, her sister Annabella has made it her mission to save lives in Millie’s memory this December – by enlisting the help of some of the world’s biggest celebrities, who will feature in the star-studded advent calendar this month.
“My sister would have been 31 this year,” said Annabella, 29. “We should be celebrating Christmas together as a family, as we always did. It’s strange and very sad to think we’ve now had ten years of celebrating Christmas without her. This campaign is the perfect way to remember her this Christmas – she was an inspiration.”
Millie, from Keig, Aberdeenshire, was a “naughty but nice”, fun-loving teenager who loved fashion, sports and parties. But everything changed when she was diagnosed with leukaemia aged 19.
During her two year battle with leukaemia, Millie and her family inspired more than 2,000 people to sign up to the Anthony Nolan register. A suitable donor was found for Millie and she had a transplant, but Millie sadly relapsed and died in August 2004, aged 21.
“It makes me so proud to think there are people alive today because of my big sister. I never stop missing her and I wanted to do something special to remember Millie, so I decided to continue her lifesaving work.
“Around the time of what would have been her 30th birthday, I started writing to celebrities to tell them about her story, asking them to film themselves appealing for people to join the Anthony Nolan register. I was overwhelmed by their kindness and enthusiasm.”
The result is an unprecedented series of 24 films which will be released one by one throughout December, as a celebrity advent calendar on Anthony Nolan’s social media channels. But this isn’t just any celebrity advent calendar – this one could cure blood cancer.
“These people didn’t know me, or Millie, so it means the world to my family that these celebrities have been inspired by Millie’s story and taken five minutes to film themselves at work, at home and even in their kitchens, to encourage their fans to sign up,” said Annabella. “Any one of their fans who join the register could end up saving the life of a stranger. If enough people watch and share these videos, this project could mean the difference between life and death for someone like Millie.”
Reflecting on what Millie would have thought about the campaign, Annabella added: “I think if she was alive today we’d still have done it and we’d have done it together. I really hope she’s looking down and feeling proud, because all of this is because of her.”
You can view the advent calendar here.