MANY young girls look forward to being treated on their birthday with presents, a nice meal out, or even a fancy new hairdo.
But Shannon Timms, from North Leigh, near Witney, will spend her 12th birthday celebrations this weekend watching her long, wavy hair drop to the floor as she has her head shaved for charity.
She decided to take on the challenge to benefit other children who have had to lose their hair because of cancer, such as former school friend Hugo Abbott.
He said Shannon’s fundraising gesture was “awesome”.
Nine-year-old Hugo’s own hair fell out during treatment after he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in July 2010.
Wood Green School pupil Shannon said: “Most people on their birthday want presents, like a new gadget, but I want to make a difference for those who are less fortunate and have cancer.
“Children should be able to live a life without having to worry about having no hair and it’s more important that I raise some money from my hair than have it myself.”
Shannon’s birthday is on Thursday and she has organised the head shave at North Leigh’s Turner Hall on Saturday.
She will donate her hair to the Little Princess Trust, which makes wigs for young cancer patients, and she has already raised more than £1,000 for children’s cancer charity CLIC Sargent.
It provided support and outreach nurses for Hugo, a pupil at North Leigh Primary School, where Shannon used to attend.
Hugo’s condition, which affects about 400 children a year in the UK, is a cancer of the white blood cells that begins in bone marrow.
He had an operation to remove three tumours from his spine at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford.
Hugo had little or no hair for three years while he underwent chemotherapy, but he has been in remission and free of treatment since last September.
He said: “It felt very strange not having any hair – it made me feel glum and I was desperate for it to grow back.
“It was a miracle when my hair came back but it took a very long time. Shannon donating her hair is very kind and thoughtful – she is awesome.”
Hugo’s mum, Leigh Abbott, 39, said she and her husband Tim, 42, a draughtsman, first noticed there were problems when their son was feeling lethargic and unwell just before his fifth birthday.
She said: “Being told he had cancer was the worst news you could ever possibly hear – it was absolutely devastating.
“He didn’t have the same energy as his friends, couldn’t run around and didn’t have a full head of hair.
“He was still a happy, joyful boy but there was always that aspect that he knew he looked different, which was upsetting.
“His hair has come back with a vengeance, with twice as much as he had in the first place.”
Mrs Abbott applauded Shannon’s gesture, adding: “The fact she’s willing to give up her hair so another little boy or girl will feel better is amazing.
“It’s an astonishing gesture for a 12-year-old girl because I certainly know I wouldn’t have been able to do that at her age, so it’s great courage on her behalf.”
Shannon’s legal secretary mum Sarah Buckingham, 37, said: “Her hair is long and curly and is what you notice first when you see her.
“But she’s so selfless and as far as she’s concerned it’s just hair and will grow back.”
The event, which also includes a silent auction, raffle, tombola, games, stalls and a barbecue, will be held at the village hall in Church Lane from 2pm to 5pm, with the headshave taking place at 4pm.
To sponsor Shannon, visit justgiving.com/Shannon-Timms
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