A youngster on a mission to raise awareness of alopecia is set to donate almost £4,000 to a charity which has helped her since she lost her hair.
Jenny Thomson, 11, of Morebattle, was growing her hair to donate to the Little Princess Trust, a charity which makes wigs for youngsters, last July, but just a month later she was diagnosed with alopecia herself and lost all her hair within six months.
And on Saturday, to support that charity, which has since provided her with a wig, she organised a coffee morning fundraiser in Morebattle Institute.
Four of her friends – Nicky Stevens, Hannah Patterson and Caitlin and Abigail Butler – each donated up to 12 inches of their hair during a charity haircut.
“I’ve had alopecia for roughly a year now, and it started at the back of my neck,” Jenny said. “We don’t know why, but now my hair is very slowly starting to grow back, so it’s looking positive.
“I would just like to thank everyone who has supported us and gave us donations, with all the home-baking, raffle prizes and other things, my friends who had their hair cut and to everyone who came to support us. It’s been amazing.”
The Morebattle Primary School pupil was joined at the event by fellow alopecia sufferer Liv Ferguson, 17, of Kelso.
The pair are now in the process of setting up an alopecia support group in the region, and their friendship is something Jenny’s mum Morag says has been invaluable.
“Jenny has had great support from Liv,” Morag said. “She’s been talking to her about what she has gone through and how she copes with it.
More than 400 people packed the institute for the coffee morning, and among them was a businessman with a special interest in the cause.
“We had fantastic support from the village and all over the area,” Morag added.
“The hall was packed when this chap, Steven Porter, walked in and asked if he could give a donation.
“It turned out he was a cousin of Gail Porter, the TV presenter who is probably one of the most well-known Scots with alopecia, and he had heard me talking about the event on the radio and wanted to show some support.
“Steven runs Porter’s Porch and Conservatories in Hawick and donated the incredible amount of £1,000 to Jenny’s fund, but he also had a great chat with Jenny about what Gail had experienced and how she had got on with it and not let it affect her life.
“That kind of support is possibly more valuable than the money, to be honest.”
Steven said: “When I read the story in the paper, I just thought it was tragic, then I heard Jenny’s mum on the radio, so I just dived down to Morebattle, had a cup of coffee and a cake and spoke to Jenny.
“Hearing that so many of the girls had their hair cut to support Jenny absolutely ripped me apart, so I gave them the donations because what they did was just amazing.
“I think they were quite pleased.”
Jenny added: “It was a real surprise to see Gail Porter’s cousin.
“I can’t believe he came, and I’m really happy and shocked that he gave us £1,000. I didn’t think we’d raise so much, but it’s something I wanted to do for the Little Princess Trust because they do so much to help people who lose their hair.”
Further funds were raised through sponsorship collected and a raffle.