Hair today, gone tomorrow?
This is really for you to decide. My fate, well at least my appearance, is entirely in your hands! I am offering to shave my head, to raise funds and awareness for two causes close to my heart, Rowcroft Hospice and JusticeforLB. The catch?
I'm not prepared to shave for less than £1,500 and I'd ideally like to raise much more than that.
15 June update: 5 days of pledging to go and we've smashed the target. Thank you all so much. The daily realisation that in a couple of weeks I'll have NO HAIR, is heavily tempered by knowing that I'll be able to make such considerable donations to Rowcroft Hospice and JusticeforLB. I don't want to get complacent though, these causes need every penny they can get so please keep pledging and sharing. Thank you.
In September 2007, days after his 60th birthday, my Dad was diagnosed with bile duct cancer, cholangiocarcinoma (someone once told me the nastier the cancer, the more syllables...to save you working it out, it has eight!). Just over five years later, after a long journey of surgery, chemotherapy and buckets of positive mental attitude, in November 2012, my Dad died at home. There is no way that this would have been possible, without the amazing support of Rowcroft's Hospice at Home service.
Four months after Dad died, Connor Sparrowhawk (known as LB/laughing boy for short) was admitted to hospital in Oxford for assessment and treatment. Connor was a fit and healthy 18 year old, who also had autism and epilepsy. After 107 days in the specialist unit, he drowned in the bath. An entirely preventable death. His family were thrown into grief, with little support and few answers. Since then they have launched JusticeforLB and 107days to find answers, and improve provision for all people with learning disabilities. They are remarkable.
What will the money be spent on?
I will split any money leftover after rewards have been shared, 50-50 between Rowcroft Hospice and JusticeforLB.
Rowcroft Hospice has to fundraise for nearly all of the services that it provides, and charges are never made to patients, their families or friends. The Hospice at Home service costs £670,000 a year to run. In the last year they supported 367 patients and their families, to die at home (or another home of their choosing). This works out at a cost of about £1.8k per person. The average length of support provided by the Hospice at Home team is 2-4 days, although it can be longer.
LB's Fighting Fund has been established to help cover the costs of legal representation at the inquest, currently adjourned, as Connor's family seek answers about what happened to him. They are being supported by Inquest and Oxfordshire Family Support Network and any surplus funds will be shared between those two causes. You can read the Inquest press release about Connor's death here.
Why are you crowdfunding? I don't want a reward...
That's great! We are using a crowdfunding platform for a couple of reasons, but mostly so that we can split the cash between two causes, and so we can offer rewards to those that would like them. Don't worry we're not really expecting anyone to opt for the big rewards and if you would just like to donate that's fine too - you can choose to not receive a reward.
When will the shearing happen?
Don't know yet, but I'm keen that it happens at some stage within the #107days of action campaign for #JusticeforLB, which ends on July 4 2014. The crowdfunding campaign has been set to six weeks to raise our goal, if I don't raise at least £1,500 it won't happen, but if I do (and I really hope you'll support me), then it's most likely to be at the end of June.
Update: The head shave will happen on Wednesday 2 July and I'm very grateful to Paul Clarke, who has kindly pledged his time to photograph the event, and to the team at Stylz Hair and Beauty, who despite being guaranteed to lose my custom for a long time, have very generously pledged and agreed to shave my head for me.