A head for do­na­tions

Irish Daily Mail - YOU - - FOOD EXCLUSIVE - n For more in­for­ma­tion or to do­nate log on to lit­tleprincesses.org.uk

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

Sarah Stacey


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