Photographer Michael Young’s long flowing ponytail used to be a familiar sight around Sheffield. Better known as Mickelmas, Mr Young’s 20-inch ponytail was the result of five years without a decent haircut, so it’s safe to say he had grown quite attached to his locks.
Nonetheless, the photographer was only too happy to volunteer to have it all lopped off in the name of charity. But this was no minor event with a few family and friends present for support. Taking place at Sheffield’s O2 Academy on Saturday 25th June 2011, the event, dubbed the ‘Hair Raiser’, featured six local bands.
Mickelmas even took a key role in helping to organise the event, which raised money for The Little Princess Trust, a children’s hair loss charity that The Belgravia Centre has supported for several years.
The privilege of cutting off the cherished ponytail on-stage in front of hundreds of people was raffled off, while the person who donated the largest amount to The Little Princess Trust was called upon to shave off the rest of his hair. The challenge of tackling the long-cultivated locks proved too much though, and Mickelmas was eventually given a buzz cut backstage.
The Little Princess Trust
The Little Princess Trust was set up to provide real hair wigs for children who have lost their hair due to cancer treatments. The Trust fully funds these wigs through the money it raises, and organises their supply and fitting. Alopecia sufferer Gail Porter is an ambassador for the Trust, while a number of high profile celebrities are involved as ‘honorary vice-presidents’.
Mickelmas revealed to the Star newspaper that he has personal reasons for raising money for the Trust, having himself suffered hair loss after cancer treatment.
“I was diagnosed with cancer when I was 29,” he said. “I’m fully recovered now but when my hair started falling out it knocked me for six. I didn’t want to leave the house, so I can’t imagine how that would feel for a kid – it must be 10 times worse.”
Cancer treatments and hair loss
Though hair loss in cancer sufferers is sometimes wrongly assumed to be due to the disease itself, it is actually the chemotherapy treatment which sufferers go through which causes hair to fall out. Chemotherapy drugs work by attacking and damaging cells within the body which are dividing, and thus can be used to control and eliminate the spread of cancer. However they do not discriminate between good and bad cells, so also attack healthy cells, such as those in hair follicles. This damage to the healthy hair follicles is what causes hair loss after chemotherapy.
Though hair usually re-grows some time after chemotherapy treatment has ceased, it can be very distressing for people who are already suffering from a life-threatening illness, particularly for children. This is what The Little Princess Trust aims to tackle, and even though their name refers to little girls, they also provide high quality wigs for boys as well.
The total raised by the end of the O2 ‘Hair Raiser’ was approximately £1,137, but further donations can be made at www.justgiving.com/mickelmas.
For more information on The Little Princess Trust and how to get involved, visit www.littleprincesses.org.uk