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Ruby's Tea Towel for Starship 2016

Wallace Cotton launches the 2016 Ruby Seeto for Wallace Cotton fundraising tea towel for Starship.

19 year old cancer survivor Ruby Seeto joined a group of Starship children to run a creative classroom session at the national children's hospital that saved her life. It coincides with the launch of Ruby's latest fundraising tea towel, 'Watermelon ice pops for Starship'.

This year marks a decade since Ruby's cancer diagnosis at age 9; a rare cancer requiring surgery to remove a 1.6kg tumour from her liver. In that time the Aucklander, who is currently studying in Wellington, has made a big difference with a simple idea - designing and selling tea towels. 'Watermelon ice pops for Starship' is Ruby's tenth tea towel design; she has partnered Kiwi linen and homeware brand Wallace Cotton to produce the last eight and together they have raised more than $400,000 for the Starship Foundation.

The new design incorporates a recipe for watermelon ice blocks with edible flowers, beautifully detailed in vintage summer hues. Also on offer is a colouring-in version, complete with coloured fabric markers so children (or adults) can add their own creative twist.

In support of the campaign, Nice Blocks has adapted Ruby's recipe for commercial sale and will release a limited-edition ice block later this year.

Money raised from the sale of the tea towels and Nice Blocks will help establish an ovarian tissue cryopreservation banking protocol for New Zealand Paediatric Haematology/Oncology Services, to benefit young cancer patients. This will ensure the option of ovarian tissue cryopreservation and storage is made available to all eligible girls within a nationally available and approved programme.

Ovarian tissue cryopreservation is the only means of preserving fertility for pre-pubertal girls who are at high risk of infertility related to cancer treatment. While international and New Zealand recommendations are that this technology be made available to girls in this high risk group, it is not currently funded in New Zealand. This means until now only those with the personal resources to pay for the processing and storage of the tissue are able to benefit from the service. 

The Starship Foundation funding will be used to support the costs associated with retrieval of ovarian tissue (via laparoscopic surgery at the time of central line insertion or other standard procedure), specialist training of technical staff, processing of the tissue at Fertility Associates, and ongoing storage of the tissue.

It is anticipated that this protocol will remain open to accrual until ovarian tissue cryopreservation for eligible patients is included in the service specifications for DHBs. The Ministry of Health has indicated this project will be publically funded from 2019.

During Ruby's cancer treatment, she spent 12 months at Starship Hospital undergoing intensive chemotherapy.

It is so rewarding to give back to the amazing hospital that helped me get better, connecting with children who are going through their own tough journey.

Ruby Seeto

"I am also very proud to be supporting the Ovarian Tissue Cryopreservation project with this year's tea towel. I think it is very important that the option of ovarian tissue cryopreservation and storage is made available to all eligible girls nationwide, so no one is disadvantaged from their cancer treatment." 

Ruby Tea Towel - Image of Mileka Hamilton from Hamilton

Starship Patient Mileka Hamilton, from the Waikato, enjoys colouring the new Watermelon Ice Pops for Starship tea towel designed by Ruby Seeto.

Buy the 2016 Tea Towel

Brad Clark, Chief Executive of the Starship Foundation, said; "It has been a joy to see the Ruby Seeto and Wallace Cotton collaboration grow over the years from a basic concept to this latest beautiful creation. Ruby and her family are absolute stars for Starship, and Wallace Cotton has been a crucial partner adding commercial expertise and other generous support through the years."

Wallace Cotton Director, Paula Wallace, adds: "We are delighted with this latest 'fruitful' collaboration to help a cause we feel very proud to champion. We know our customers will love the new tea towel as much as we do and will support it for the benefit of New Zealand's children.

The 'Watermelon ice pops for Starship' tea towels ($10), aprons ($15) and a black and white tea towel with coloured markers ($16) are now available to purchase in-store and online at They are 100% cotton and $6 from every sale (all the proceeds after costs) goes to the Starship Foundation.

The Watermelon Nice Blocks will be available at selected New World supermarkets and other independent retailers from Labour Weekend (24 October 2016), for a limited time. Thirty cents from every single block (RRP $3) and 50c from every four-pack (RRP $8.99) will go to the Starship Foundation.

You can keep up with Ruby and her tea towels on her Facebook page

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