A LITTLE boy facing major surgery in the new year is the inspiration behind a Jedburgh man losing nearly three stones, writes Sally Gillespie.
Janitor James Hogg, of Jedbank Drive, has raised more than £1,500 for charity by losing weight and then having his head shaved by schoolchildren last Wednesday.
The dad-of-one said: “It was to help out young Kerr. He comes to our school after lunchtime, he always wants to help me. He’s a cracking wee laddie, he’s superb, he’s a little boy in a million.”
Jedburgh’s six-year-old Kerr Stewart was born with the right side of his brain not working properly which results in him having epilepsy. In February he will go to the Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital for a rare operation when surgeons will separate one half of his brain from the other in a last -ditch attempt to help him.
And the money Mr Hogg, Parkside primary’s janitor, raised will be split between the London hospital and the palliative care Margaret Kerr Unit being built at the Borders General Hospital.
The 42-year-old decided to lose three stones on a sponsored slim and promised if he didn’t reach his target within three months the Parkside primary schoolchildren could shave his head.
Kerr’s mum Faye said: “It’s absolutely fantastic, really kind and generous and good of Mr Hogg to do this. It’s amazing what he’s done. People have been so kind.
“This operation is the only thing left: we have tried all the medications and nothing has worked. This is the last resort. There is only a 40 per cent chance of it being successful, but we’ve got to try it.”
She said: “Kerr has about five or six (epileptic fits) a day just now. When he’s having a bad time they can be every half an hour.”
The plucky primary two schoolboy was the first to take the clippers to Mr Hogg’s head. Kerr’s older brother, Lewis, 11, took part in the shaving, Mr Hogg’s daughter Katie, 13, a grammar school pupil, had a hand in it too, as did another 16 Parkside schoolchildren whose names were pulled out of a hat – and so did head teacher George Gilchrist.
Mr Gilchrist said: “It’s a fantastic example of how the community in the school and Jedburgh get together to help and support each other. It was a wonderful afternoon, there wasn’t a dry eye in the place.”
Mr Hogg had grown his hair during his three-month challenge. He said: “It was quite floppy when they started but it was right to the wood by the time they finished. There’s a bit of growth now, but I’ve never had my hat off!”
The fundraising total on Monday stood at £1,531 – but more money was expected thanks to Parkside and Howdenburn primaries’ upcoming Christmas service donations also going towards the Great Ormond Street hospital.
Mr Hogg said: “I’m ecstatic. When I first started I thought I would be really happy if we raised £300-400, but people have been superb and it’s not just Jedburgh, but people in the Borders generally.”
A friend sponsored him per every pound he lost, people made donations – including a generous £50 – and a family held a disco raising £177. “People have been brilliant,” said Mr Hogg.
He explained how he got within two pounds of his target: “I cut out eating rubbish, I didn’t drink alcohol for three-and-a-half months, cut out bread and did a bit of exercise – walking the dog and golfing.”
The healthy living saw him lose two stone and 12 lbs in the three months, not quite enough to avert last Wednesday’s close shave.
Kerr attends Wilton school in Hawick before returning to Jedburgh in the afternoons and seeking out the janitor.
“He picks up rubbish, which helps his movement, he likes to use the barrow – and peep the horn in the car before we do anything! And he has a drink of milk in the nursery when we visit there,” said Mr Hogg.
Mr Hogg celebrated his 43rd birthday yesterday and agreed the kindness of Jethart and Borders people was the best present.
Kerr will be seven later this month (December 29) and will undergo the hemispherectomy operation on February 2.