A head for donations
THE parents of children are undergoing cancer treatment often feel a sense of helplessness and loss of control. Comforting little ones when their hair falls out – particularly in the case of young girls, who tend to get more upset about it – can be heartbreaking. Now a Britishbased charity is reaching out a helping hand to families in Ireland.
The Little Princess Trust provides real hair wigs free of charge for girls and boys undergoing cancer treatment in the UK and Ireland.
It was founded in 2005 by the parents of English girl Han-nah Tarplee. Before the lovely five-year-old lost her own cancer battle she had enjoyed wearing her wig, particularly on special occasions.
In the 11 years since, the charity has provided over 5,000 real hair wigs to children, many of whom survived their cancer ordeal.
‘We’ve had countless letters, cards and emails from children and their parents describing the phenomenally positive impact on their life wearing their wig had,’ says charity manager Monica Glass. ‘How it makes them feel more like their old self and look like their old self before diagnosis. It also makes a difference to other family members around them. Parents in that situation are bombarded with so much information at a really difficult time. This is something they can organise for their child that is 100% free and there are no hoops to jump through. It is not means tested. You simply contact us and we will put you in contact with a local salon. We have a number of salons we work with in the Republic of Ireland.’
The charity depends on donations – both of money and of hair, ideally 25-30cms in length – and also helps children with other hair loss conditions, such as alopecia. ‘We provided nearly 1,200 free wigs last year and we are on track to do the same this year. Since January of this year we have helped 15 children from the Republic of Ireland. We would love to hear from more Irish families and raise awareness of our service in Ireland,’ says Monica.
‘We receive referrals from parents whose children are attending Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin, and we pride ourselves on a very simple process to obtain the wig from us. While the children are receiving treatment and suffering hair loss, we can provide as many wigs as required. We say children but we help people to the age of 25.’
Just 5% of their clients are girls. ‘We were being told anecdotally that boys cope a lot better with hair loss than girls,’ explains Monica. But in an effort to redress the balance, last month they launched Hero by LPT, aimed at boys, and saw a spike to 9% in uptake over the month.
In 2015, Little Princess Trust teamed up with Great Lengths hair extensions, who have now donated over 1,000 bundles of hair to the charity.
‘We were approached through their ambassador James Henderson of M Hair in Nottingham. He had noticed that hair extensions have only a certain life as an extension but that the quality of the hair is still very good when they are removed. Thanks to James he put the two organisations in touch with each other. We have an exclusive relationship now and the reason we accept Great Lengths is we know they are guaranteed to be 100% human hair.’
Wendy Tarplee-Morris, co-founder, and Monica Glass, charity manager, the Little Princess Trust