Head shaving experience raises thousands for cancer charity

by Scott Douglas

Saturday, July 9th, 2005

Two bosses at a Fife company who agreed to shave their hair off for charity have raised over £5000.

 Shirene Howie and Mara Duffy, managers for Scotland’s leading all trades contractor FFDR, encouraged donations by having their lengthy locks shaved off by award-winning hairdresser to the stars, Charlie Miller in a bid to support a teenage colleague who had been diagnosed with cancer.

 Brave Nicola Huxtable, an administrative assistant for the Fife firm, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease nine weeks before Christmas and was devastated at the thought of losing her hair while undergoing intense chemotherapy sessions.

 In an effort to support Nicola, and raise money for charity, Shirene and Mara rallied round the pretty 19 year old and agreed to have their have shaved off so Nicola didn’t feel out of place.

 Now seven months on, Nicola is in remission of the disease and has donated the generous sum to the haematological day unit at Kirkcaldy’s Victoria hospital to help others who are affected by cancer.

 Office manger Shirene Howie, 34, from Ballingry, said there set target was £2000 and was over the moon that they exceeded it by a further £3400.

 She added: “I am just overwhelmed at people’s generosity and would like to say a big thank you everyone who kindly donated money.

 “Our target was £2000 but I was absolutely gobsmacked when I realised we had made grand total of £5402.82 thanks to our director who agreed to match what we raised.

 “Everyone thought I was mad when I told them what I was planning to do but seeing how upset Nicola was when she told us she had cancer and the fact that she had a 90 per cent chance of losing her hair was a terrible shock.

 “She is only 19 years old and is a great friend so it’s only natural that I wanted to help and support while she went through this difficult time in her young life.”

 Shirene has just had her second haircut and is enjoying experimenting with colour again.

The mum of one said: “I was amazed at how quick my hair grew as it’s now past my ears.  I’m in two minds whether to keep it short of grow it but I’m glad it’s long enough so I can experiment with different shades of colour.

 “I’m not sure if I would shave my hair off again but who knows as it’s a worthwhile way to raise money for charity and at the end of the day it always grows back.”

 Accounts manager Mara Duffy, 52 a mother of three from Kirkcaldy, said she was glad her hair had finally grown back to a reasonable length.

 “It was the worst time of the year to have our head shaved as winter was on the way and also it was the Christmas party season.  But, like Shirene, I just wanted to do what I could to support Nicola.

 “It came as a terrible shock to us when Nicola was diagnosed with cancer but I wasn’t worried about shaving my shoulder length hair off as it meant I was playing a small part in helping Nicola get through her diagnosis as well as raising money to help other people with cancer.”

 Shirene and Mara distributed sponsor forms to family and friends around Fife and in FFDR’s head office in Lochgelly, Fife.

 Ronnie Klos, director of FFDR, congratulated Shirene and Mara on their efforts by donating £2700 on behalf of the firm and was glad Nicola had been given the all-clear.

 He said: “Thankfully Nicola is in remission and has returned to work on a part-time basis.  We have all missed her while she had been receiving treatment but it’s great to see her back at work as she is an excellent member of staff.”

 After collecting the final sum of money last month, Nicola decided the money should go to the haematological day unit at Kirkcaldy’s Victoria hospital.

 Nicola said: “The staff were wonderful and really made me feel at ease.  I’m extremely lucky to have got through this terrible disease and I think half the battle was having such caring nurses looking after me and helping me overcome the cancer.

 “It was only right the haematological unit should receive the money raised so they can buy more equipment to help others affected with cancer have a better chance of beating it.

 “I’m glad I have now been given the all clear and I’m looking forward to getting back to normal and build up my self-confidence again as it was a scary thing to deal with at such a young age. I know I am really lucky to have caught the cancer in time before it spread any further, so I feel as if I have been given a second chance in life.”

 Mary Mair, Medical Directorate Manager, for NHS Fife, said: “We are very grateful to everyone who took part in this fundraising effort in such an innovative and supportive way.

“The money raised will be put to good use to provide additional items of equipment for the ward which will benefit many other patients in the future”.

Hodgkin’s disease is a cancer of the lymphatic system which helps the body fight infection.  It is most common in people ages 15 to 40, but caught early up to 90 per cent of those diagnosed are cured through chemotherapy and radiotherapy sessions lasting from four to six months. 

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