Teen’s head shave raises thou­sands

The Oban Times - - NEWS - By Mark En­twistle men­[email protected]­times.co.uk

When teenager Katie Con­nolly an­nounced she wanted to have her long tresses shorn to raise money for a char­ity fund­ing re­search into brain tu­mours like the one suf­fered by her dad, the ini­tial tar­get was £500.

So every­one was stag­gered last week when the Brain Tu­mour Char­ity ben­e­fited to the tune of nearly 20 times that amount thanks to the 13-yearold from North Cor­ran.

Katie’s dad, Ally, a free­lance out­door ac­tiv­i­ties in­struc­tor, was di­ag­nosed with a brain tu­mour in 2015. He went through an op­er­a­tion and then treat­ment through­out the fol­low­ing year.

How­ever, the re­sults of a re­cent six-monthly MRI scan re­vealed Ally’s tu­mour had reap­peared and he was placed back on chemo­ther­apy.

Ally says that after Katie, the youngest of his two daugh­ters, de­cided she wanted to have her head shaved to raise money for the char­ity, her fam­ily tried to dis­suade her.

‘Katie had been talk­ing about do­ing a head shave for a while and we had tried to put her off – show­ing her pic­tures of peo­ple like Brit­tany Spears and Sinead O’Con­nor after they’d had their hair cut off,’ Ally told the Lochaber Times with a laugh. ‘But she is as stub­born as her mother.’

Once it was agreed Katie could do ‘The Big Shave’ fundraiser, her mum, Jess, set up a Face­book page with de­tails.

‘We had hoped it might raise £500 for the char­ity. How­ever, it has now raised more than £8,800 and with gift aid added it should be around £11,000 so far,’ said Ally last week.

He says the fam­ily wanted to gen­er­ate pub­lic­ity about Katie’s ef­forts for three rea­sons - to high­light the ‘awe­some­ness’ of Katie and the gen­eros­ity of every­one who do­nated; to shine a spot­light on the great work done by the Brain Tu­mour Char­ity and to en­sure pub­lic­ity about Ally’s symp­toms be­fore he was di­ag­nosed mean other peo­ple may be helped ear­lier.

‘After Jess put the ap­peal on Face­book, it just grew arms and legs. Every­one is now over the moon with the amount raised. We just can’t be­lieve it,’ Ally ex­plained, adding that do­na­tions had ranged from £4 to an amaz­ingly gen­er­ous one of £750 from one cou­ple.

Ally is clearly very proud of his daugh­ter: ‘Of course I’m very proud of her. We all are. It’s a fan­tas­tic ef­fort.’

It was an epilep­tic seizure in 2015 after months of strange smells and tastes that led doc­tors to di­ag­nose 39-yearold Ally’s prob­lem as a brain tu­mour.

‘I was prac­ti­cally liv­ing at the Beat­son [can­cer cen­tre] in Glas­gow for all that plus over six weeks of ra­dio­ther­apy,’ said Ally.

Then it was a round of MRI scans ev­ery three months to check for any signs of the tu­mour, which then changed to ev­ery six months.

And it was one of these six-monthly scans in Septem­ber that de­tected a tiny nod­ule, just half a cen­time­tre in length, mean­ing Ally needs more chemo­ther­apy.

With dad and daugh­ter now sport­ing sim­i­lar hair­dos, Ard­na­mur­chan High School pupil Katie says she was happy for hair­dresser Deb­bie Cox to re­lieve her of her long locks: ‘I don’t mind hav­ing it all cut off as it is for a good cause and at least I have seven hats to keep my head warm!’ she laughed.

Katie says school friends at Ard­na­mur­chan high have all been sup­port­ive and full of ad­mi­ra­tion for her ef­forts: ‘Every­one was want­ing to touch my head af­ter­wards,’ joked Katie, who do­nated her hair to the Lit­tle Princess Trust which pro­vides real hair wigs for young peo­ple who have lost their hair as a re­sult of can­cer.

Katie Grier, west coast rep­re­sen­ta­tive for Brain Tu­mour Char­ity, was also present for The Big Shave, af­ter­wards pre­sent­ing Katie with a spe­cial gi­ant ‘thank you’ cookie.

Ms Grier said: ‘What Katie has done is ab­so­lutely fan­tas­tic.

The amount Katie had raised by the time she had her hair cut off was enough to fund 35 days of re­search into brain tu­mours.’

To do­nate to Katie’s fan­tas­tic fundrais­ing ap­peal go to: www.face­book.com/ do­nate/260543197941236/

‘Of course I’m re­ally proud of her. We all are.’

Katie with her fam­ily and hair­dresser Deb­bie Cox, left, and above, with her dad and with the gi­ant cookie from the Brain Tu­mour Char­ity. Be­low left, Katie has her head shaved.

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