Nev’s pur­ple hair dare for Alzheimer’s

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By LAU­REN PRIESTLEY

It might look like Neville Aitchi­son is tak­ing his cue from celebri­ties like Katy Perry and Kelly Os­bourne by dye­ing his hair pur­ple, but it’s all for a very good cause.

He is in his 60s and works at Alzheimers Auck­land in Grey Lynn. He says his work­mates ‘‘ganged up’’ on him and told him he had to dye his grey hair bright pur­ple if they raised $1000. They suc­ceeded on Septem­ber 12.

The vi­o­let hue is the same colour used to pro­mote Alzheimer’s Aware­ness Month, so it’s a fit­ting choice, he says.

As it turned out, nine staff mem­bers were happy to put up the cash re­quired to see Mr Aitchi­son with pur­ple hair, so no fundrais­ing was re­quired.

‘‘Some­one asked me, what would it take to dye your hair pur­ple? I said $1000 for Alzheimers Auck­land, not think­ing they would do it.

‘‘It was just the staff dig­ging deep and say­ing we’ll make Neville look fool­ish for the cause. They got me a treat.’’

The deal is, he must keep the pur­ple look un­til the end of Septem­ber.

Mr Aitchi­son had the dye­job done at the Chan­tal Landais Hair Stu­dio in Herne Bay. He was a reg­u­lar at the salon about 18 years ago and knows the owner well.

Stu­dio hair­dresser Kinga Hir­iczko was happy to be part of the gag and says the colour will def­i­nitely last un­til Oc­to­ber.

‘‘I was laugh­ing. We all did when he told us.’’

Af­ter his salon ap­point­ment Mr Aitchi­son went to the su­per­mar­ket and got plenty of strange looks from fel­low shop­pers.

‘‘The check-out op­er­a­tor wanted to know why I was wear­ing a wig,’’ he says.

He’s get­ting plenty of at­ten­tion at work too. He says his col­leagues keep want­ing to touch his hair be­cause it looks so un­real.

Mr Aitchi­son’s mother was di­ag­nosed with de­men­tia when he was younger. He be­came in­volved with Alzheimers Auck­land as fundrais­ing man­ager in 2012.

‘‘It was a per­fect fit. There’s a real need to lift the aware­ness of Alzheimer’s and de­men­tia. There’s still a whole lot of stigma at­tached to it.’’

Alzheimers Auck­land pro­vides sup­port and ser­vices to the 14,000 peo­ple di­ag­nosed with de­men­tia in Auck­land and their car­ers.

‘‘You’re not dy­ing with de­men­tia, you’re ac­tu­ally liv­ing with it. It’s our job to en­sure peo­ple live well.

‘‘For the peo­ple who care for them it’s a 24/7 job. If the car­ers fall over then peo­ple with de­men­tia fall over.’’

Photo: LAU­REN PRIESTLEY

Turn­ing pur­ple: Neville Aitchi­son checks out his new hair colour. He is tak­ing his sup­port of Alzheimer’s Aware­ness Month to a whole new level.

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