Caroline is ‘star’ winner of David Cameron’s last Points of Light award from Downing Street
- Credit: Cabinet Office & Google
A woman civil servant has won the Points of Light award today for outstanding volunteering contribution from Prime Minister David Cameron in his final day in office.
Caroline Star has received the award on what is an historic and eventful day in Downing Street for the United Kingdom.
But it hasn’t overshadowed the work Caroline has put into her campaign for public awareness of CMV, a disease that causes permanent disabilities in one-in-1,000 newborns in Britain.
Her own daughter Parisa, now aged six, was diagnosed with CMV at eight weeks old, which has left her with profound deafness.
But the mum from Whitechapel in London’s East End discovered there was little public knowledge about it.
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“The virus can be passed from a pregnant woman to the unborn baby,” she explained. “It’s more common than Down’s syndrome or toxoplasmosis and damages two to three babies born every day in Britain.
“It can cause mental and physical disabilities and it devastates lives.”
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Caroline joined CMV Action, taking over as Chair in 2013, who tirelessly campaigns to see every pregnant woman equipped with knowledge of how the disease is spread and how to reduce these risks.
This involves following simple hygiene precautions in pregnancy which “can make all the difference”, she points out.
But against the odds, she achieved a Prime Minister’s support amid the turmoil of the EU referendum and just before he left Office.
Mr Cameron said before stepping down: “Caroline’s exceptional volunteering has seen her take over the Chair of CMV Action and significantly step up its influence and activities, despite a busy career at the Department for Education.
“For the thousands of civil servants who generously give their time and share their skills with good causes, volunteering is a natural extension of their dedication to public service.”
He then trotted off to the Commons for his last Prime Minister’s Question Time, facing MPs on both sides, before heading for Buckingham Palace this-afternoon to hand in his resignation to the Queen.
Caroline, as a civil servant and especially as an East End mum with a child affected by CMV, was “delighted” to have the outgoing Prime Minster join in talking about the disease.
The CMV Action charity under her leadership has considerably extended its reach, especially with Cameron’s backing from Downing Street.
It currently supports 500 families every year, has developed training for the Royal College of Midwives and supports research into the virus itself.