St Albans musician helps lead national campaign to double stem cell registers

PUBLISHED: 13:00 11 November 2016

Gracing billboards around the country: St Albans' Grace Hynds

Gracing billboards around the country: St Albans' Grace Hynds

Photo supplied

Amazing Grace Hynds has had her face emblazoned on billboards across the UK, after the St Albans teen wrote and recorded a poignant song, lighting the way for a charity.

Gracing billboards around the country, including St Albans, is local resident Grace HyndsGracing billboards around the country, including St Albans, is local resident Grace Hynds

The 18-year-old’s face has featured on 150 billboards, including London Road in St Albans, and The Curve, the iconic advertising motion screen at Piccadilly.

The former Sandringham School pupil wrote a moving ballad, Light The Way, in memory of Margot Martini, who tragically lost her battle with blood cancer at the age of two.

It was while studying in the sixth form at Elstree University Technical College (EUTC) that Grace felt a strong connection to charity Team Margot, which campaigns for potential bone marrow/stem cell donors to join the register.

The teen said: “I wrote the piece with the hope that people would be able to sing along to the track and thereby increase the awareness of Team Margot as a charity.”

The song was a key part of a recent appeal to double the UK’s stem cell registers to 2.2 million people.

Grace said that once the melody, lyrics and chords were organised, she and EUTC friend and classmate Daniella Bernard - a pianist - transformed the piece from a song that began with strumming her guitar in her bedroom to being recorded at Metropolis studio.

Daniella and Grace’s song was supported by the college and various professional musicians, including a string quartet from the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, and a 17-strong choir.

The teen said that she “fell in love with the charity in its ambition to unite people in registering as potential donors, for such a life-changing cause” after watching a promotional video made by fellow pupils at EUTC.

Grace added: “In suffering a personal bereavement, as a songwriter I was able to tap into my emotional memory and write lyrics that I felt would resonate with anyone who has ever lost a loved one.”

Yaser and Vicki Martini’s daughter Margot was diagnosed with an extremely rare form of blood cancer in 2013 and needed a bone marrow transplant to survive.

After a campaign, Margot eventually found a suitable donor match and received a transplant in February 2014 but the leukaemia was extremely aggressive, and she died in October that year, aged just two.

Margot’s family was grateful to her ‘selfless donor’ as his gift gave the toddler extra time with family and loved ones.

Since the appeal was launched last month, publicised on billboards and in national newspapers, there has been a spike in the number of potential bone marrow donors joining registers but more are being sought.

Yaser said: “We are hoping the song and music video will help engage and motivate 1.1 million people to join the register. Thousands of patients are urgently seeking a donor match and they need help right now.”

The students’ song is widely available, including on YouTube, at no charge, with viewers and listeners urged to register as potential stem cell donors as soon as possible.

• For more information on how to register, see www.teammargot.com

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