The Little Stradivarius — MacKenzie Furniss!

30 Jul

gaze stradivari


Good Evening.

I can assure you that Antonio Stradavari  was born in 1644, and it is more than likely that he was born in Cremona, Italy — although there are no records which record his birth or his early life. However, his mother and father were from that city, and there are records showing the birth of his older brothers – Giuseppe Giulia Cesare, Carlo Felice, and Giovanni Battista- between 1623 and 1628.

Despite the lack of official records, Antonio’s date of birth is deducible from the labels he placed inside some of the magical violins that he created. However, there are no records or information available on his early childhood, and the first evidence of his presence in Cremona is the label of his oldest surviving violin from 1666.

On the television news tonight, the BBC saw fit to devote a whole news item to the fact that the celebrated violinist Min-Jin Kym has been reunited with her ” Strad” some considerable time after it had been stolen from her while she was having coffee in a cafe somewhere near Euston in London in 2010.

As the violin is worth a cool £1.2 Million pounds and is among only 300 or so violins made by Antonio Stradivarius and dates back to 1696, it is one of those good news stories that you like to hear — and which to be frank we don’t hear often enough on our news bulletins!

A Strad– any Strad — is a wonderful instrument. The Stradivari family ( not just Antonio ) were renowned makers of stringed instruments, and it is said that each one has its own voice and is absolutely unique in terms of exact pitch and tone.

To be dubbed ” A Stradivarius” in any field is to be lauded as being the best, the most unique, the most wonderful and the most treasured in the class or category. It is also a term which is synonymous with something that is rare or precious — something that was made by the master of all masters.

There may be many attempts at making a copy— but only a Stradivarius is a Stradivarius!

So there I am, sitting on my couch, thinking about the return of a violin worth over £1M, and listening to how precious and valuable and rare it is — when I notice a tweeted message on my computer.

What grabs my attention is that it comes from a man called Chris Riddle and essentially it says “HELP!”

The subject of the cry for help turns out to be much rarer and far more valuable than any old violin — whether made by Stradivarius or not — and her name is MacKenzie Furniss from Alloa in Scotland.

MacKenzie is 9 years old, loves playing the guitar, loves One Direction and doing all the things that a 9 year old loves to do. However, Mackenzie has been diagnosed with relapsed neuroblastoma, an extremely aggressive childhood cancer.

For those of you who are not familiar with Neuroblastoma, it is a supposedly rare disease, yet it affects around 650 children in the United States alone each year, and roughly 100 UK kids every 12 months.

Mackenzie was first diagnosed with stage 4 high risk neuroblastoma in October 2009 when she was just 5 years old. She was treated at the Yorkhill Hospital for Sick Children in Glasgow and after a course of gruelling treatments including chemotherapy, surgery and IL2 immunotherapy, Mackenzie completed her treatment.

By December 2010 and scans showed no signs of cancer— McKenzie had beaten the disease.

However, less than 2 years after being given the all clear, a routine MRI scan showed that the cancer was back. There can be few things worse for a parent than finding out that your child has any form of cancer. However, in this case the situation is in fact worse because there are no relapse treatment protocols for neuroblastoma available in the UK! That’s right– in the UK if Neuroblastoma returns to an already “cleared” child then there is no fully suitable and approved available treatment!

However, it is not all bad news, because the disease can in fact be treated — in Germany or in the USA — just not in the UK!

The reason for that is because the treatment is expensive, and our Government are simply not prepared to provide such treatment on the NHS and so you have to pay to save your child in another country.

In MacKenzie’s case, her family and the Neuroblastoma Alliance ( working together with other charities ) are attempting to raise the cost of treatment so that she can be treated in Germany. There endeth the good news because the cost for the treatment is– £350,000!

Yes — you read correctly– £350,000!

What is more — it is vital that the money is raised in a hurry because as each day passes and the older MacKenzie gets, the less chance she has of responding to the treatment! Most Neuroblastoma victims are younger than McKenzie!

Now lest you are reading this story and are feeling depressed and downhearted, let me introduce you to two remarkable people:

They are called Vanessa Riddle and Oscar Knox.

Vanessa is Chris Riddle’s daughter and it was his tweet that set me off on this story.

As for Oscar– well all I will say is Google his name and see what comes back at you.

Both Vanessa and Oscar have been in MacKenzie’s shoes and all the signs are that they have beaten Neuroblastoma. In Vanessa’s case, her symptoms and age were very very similar to those of MacKenzie and once again I suggest that you Google her name and see what comes back.

The Neuroblastoma Alliance helps those who suffer from the disease — and their friends and family— to raise funds to help with the life saving treatment, and at the bottom of this wee story I will post the link to MacKenzie’s just giving page.

They are looking to raise that £350,000 and at the moment they have managed about £16,000.

Back in the day when Vanessa was looking for funds, the target was far Higher — she had to raise £500,000, and Oscar I think had to raise £350,000 as well.

Yet both achieved their target, In Vanessa’s case I think it took something like 11 weeks!

In Oscar’s case, people from all over peddled on bikes, did sponsored walks, bring and buy sales, packed shopping bags in supermarkets and so on. The support was unbelievable.

So, I am going to end now and I am going to ask you to do 5 things. If you do any one of these a little girl and her family will be eternally grateful and if you can do all five then the next time you look in the mirror you will see a real superstar — A Stradivarius of a human being!

1. Can you give something or do something to raise money for MacKenzie and her family to help her reach her goal?

A sponsored walk? Shave your legs? A Bingo night or race night? Anything at all.

If you can’t do any of those things then just give something- no matter how little– if possible.

2. Please pass this story on via twitter, facebook, e-mail or any other means of social media or communication.

3. Please write to your MP, MSP, Local Councillor or whoever about the fact that we don’t treat kids with this condition in this country and they are forced to go abroad at great expense— oh and they and their families have to rely on bozo’s like me writing stories and asking for money to save a wee girl’s life.

4. If you believe in the power of prayer– pray!

5. If you have kids of your own, nieces or nephews, God Children, Grand children or whatever– give them a hug because there with the grace of God goes someone like MacKenzie or Vanessa or Oscar.

I do not know MacKenzie and her family — I have never met Vanessa or Oscar either—  and MacKenzie’s family do not know that I am writing this piece about her or them. I am doing so because someone said help and that is the right thing to do and because it is wrong that she cannot receive treatment here by way of the much vaunted NHS system.

As anyone who reads this blog regularly knows, I am a fan and follower of Celtic Football Club. Helping others that you have never met and never will meet is at the core of what the club was founded for and all that the club stands for. Celtic was designed to make a difference!

I also believe that when someone is in trouble he or she should never walk alone.

Oh  and one we girl’s life is worth more than all the instruments ever made by Antonio Stradivari and his family — and there were over 600 in total of them — there is only one MacKenzie and she really does have a unique voice which right now is left with no option but to cry out for our help.

And if you have a spare Stradivarius and want to put it up for auction………..

Lastly — here is some footage of the Little Stradivarius herself. If you watch this, please remember one thing throughout, the little girl you see here, despite all appearances, is so critically ill that unless the disease is stopped she will die. That is a fact.

Yet that need not happen if she can be treated— that is also a fact.

Please help!

MacKenzie’s Just giving page

Follow Mackenzie on Twitter


Follow Mackenzie’s dad on twitter


Mackenzie’s best chance of beating the cancer lies in Germany.


5 Responses to “The Little Stradivarius — MacKenzie Furniss!”

  1. BMCUWP July 31, 2013 at 4:24 am #

    I had never heard of neuroblastoma until about eighteen months ago. To be honest,I wish that were still the case.

    Losing Naimh was indeed a blow,but the progress of Vanessa and Oscar offers hope.

    In McKenzie’s case,I wonder if CHILDREN IN NEED would be interested?

    It has to be worth a try,but in the meantime she can rest assured that many will be fundraising on her behalf.

  2. Chris Riddle July 31, 2013 at 11:51 am #

    What a fantastically kind hearted person you are to write this story about MacKenzie. My family has been on the receiving end of the charitable nature of the general public, not least the Celtic community, and I can say that it is a humbling experience for sure! Vanessa is my daughter, and if it had not been for good people donating their hard earned cash, then she would not be with my family and I today, that is an unbearable thought. So folks, please, if you can, do as the gentleman above writes and do a little to help, I know that MacKenzie and her family will be hugely grateful …..

  3. Shirley Ritchie July 31, 2013 at 4:14 pm #

    This story is fab and will hopefully gain some much needed publicity for Mackenzies appeal. thank you . check out Mackenzies facebook page

  4. lynne July 31, 2013 at 10:54 pm #

    Although I do not know mackenzie personally I live in the same town as her. It is amazing how a small town can come together to try and help. We just hope and pray we can help raise the money as soon as possible and with people like yourself writing a great piece like this I am sure it will be achieved

  5. Nikki O'Sullivan August 1, 2013 at 10:46 am #

    Mackenzie has now exhausted all possible treatments in the UK and urgently needs to raise £350K for lifesaving treatment. Please help us to help Mackenzie and give her the fighting chance she needs! Call the fundraising team at the NCCA UK today and do something amazing to raise the funds needed to get her to Germany – Bungee jump in Glasgow, skydive. family fun day, bag packing, sponsored leg wax, get your local bobbies in the stock, bucket collection at Celtic? The list is endless. So pick up that phone and call the fundraising team we have lots of inspirational ideas, we can send wristbands, t-shirts and give lots of help on 020 7284 0800 or email us we look forward to hearing from you!

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