In November 2015 we reported on London-based Ruth McPherson's 'Wig Free Week' where she bravely left her bald head uncovered in order to raise awareness and money for the Alopecia Areata charity AAR-UK.
Ruth has Alopecia Totalis which is a more severe version of the autoimmune condition Alopecia Areata and causes complete hair loss of the head, so her visual stand brought a lot of media attention to the cause.
"I was lucky enough to get coverage in several publications including The Scotsman and Grazia magazine," she told Belgravia. "All of which helped to raise the profile of the charity and of alopecia, which is a condition not often discussed in the media".
This helped not only to boost the public's understanding of autoimmune alopecia, but also the profile of AAR-UK, the Alopecia Areata charity which is establishing the UK's first research biobank.
Ruth recently closed her online donation page and presented the secretary of AAR-UK, Karen Green, with a cheque for a whopping £10,146.99 at the weekend - but it seems her fundraising was just the start of her involvement with this innovative charity.
"I was in contact with AAR-UK throughout my Wig Free Week fundraising to update them on my progress. When I saw what a positive impact it had, both in terms of raising awareness of alopecia and improving my own self confidence, I realised that I wanted to continue to work with the charity and do more to help," she told us. "I have spoken to Jayne Waddell, the founder, and Alison Nicholson, the fundraising manager, about how this might be possible and they were keen for me to get involved."
"I have offered to do some voluntary social media marketing and PR, dedicating a couple of hours a week to raising awareness of their research and fundraising projects. I would also be interested in setting up a mentoring website, putting people who have recently been diagnosed with alopecia in touch with people like myself who have come to terms with it. I think it would be a great way to provide support and advice, as well as sharing tips on where to source wigs and semi permanent makeup."
The charity's main aim, Ruth confirms, "is to fund and develop diversified research into alopecia," and in her AAR-UK have definitely found an impressive and passionate individual to help spread the word.
Talking about the up-coming challenge, Ruth enthuses, "I hope that I can bring enthusiasm and creative thinking to the charity, and help them to increase their profile and achieve their aims. Personally, I would like to use my new found confidence to make life easier for other alopecia sufferers who are struggling emotionally with the condition." Continues below
In addition to learning about her exciting new plans with AAR-UK, we spoke to Ruth to find out how she's feeling about her Wig Free Week now that it's all over and she tells us the feedback has been "extremely positive". "I have had so many messages of support from friends, family and colleagues as well as others who have heard about it, and many people have made very generous donations," she beamed.
Whilst Ruth has gone back to wearing her wig, it is no longer a full-time accessory and has given her a different - and inspiring - take on when and why she wears it.
"I have gone back to wearing my wig some of the time, but my Wig Free Week has given me the confidence to take it off sometimes if I don't want to wear it. I don't wear it running or to the gym any more, and there have been a couple of occasions when I have gone without it all day! It's great that I now have the choice to wear it when I want to, and don't feel that I need to hide behind it any more."
"[The Wig Free Week] has definitely changed the way I feel about wearing a wig. I no longer see it as a necessity but a choice, and I think I will increasingly choose not to wear it if it is hot or uncomfortable. The support I had during Wig Free Week has made me accept the way I look without it, and I now can look at myself bald and feel attractive, which I never thought would be possible."
To find out more about AAR-UK visit their website at www.aar-uk.org
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