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Young sisters get their tresses snipped to support chemotherapy unit

poppy and scarlet 1

When doting grandad, Bernie McCue, was diagnosed with cancer four years ago, his daughter, Ruth Lightowler and her husband, Chris, were open about the diagnosis with their daughter, Scarlett, and later her younger sister, Poppy. 

As Bernie continues to undergo treatment, Scarlett (6) and Poppy (5), know that he receives much of his care in the chemotherapy day unit at University Hospital of North Durham.  

Ruth comments, "In a cruel twist of fate, my husband was also diagnosed with cancer a couple of years ago and had surgery.  We're very honest with the girls so they know lots about cancer and the treatments their dad and grandad have had.  Scarlett was keen to fundraise as a way of saying 'Thank you' and as her grandad lost his hair during treatment, she decided to have her own long hair cut for charity and Poppy said she wanted to do the same.  

poppy and scarlet 2

"The girls both go to Wynyard Church of England Primary School, where I also work.  My colleagues, the children and their families have been incredibly supportive and generous.  The head teacher, Mr Ward, offered to hold a special assembly for the girls to get their hair cut and, amazingly, Scarlett spoke in front of the whole school about cancer, our family's experiences of it and why she and her sister are raising money.  My hairdresser, Emma Turnbull, offered to cut the girls' hair so it was done by someone they knew. 

"It was quite an occasion because both my dad and husband were there to hear Scarlett speak.  We're so proud of both of them for what they're doing but also for being such kind, thoughtful and very positive children. They didn't mind at all having their hair cut - it's such a fabulous cause and it'll grow back after all! 

"It made sense to support the Appeal to extend the hospital's chemotherapy day unit.

There are so many cancer treatments available now and some people, like my dad, undergo chemotherapy for several years.  This means the unit is often really busy.  It just needs more space so people can have some privacy, plus consultation rooms and other facilities.   The Appeal includes the 2020 campaign, asking individuals, companies and other organisations to raise £1000 this year.  We thought we might get £500 but we're currently on £1,500 with donations coming in all the time!"

 Scarlett had 40 centimetres and Poppy had over 20 centimetres cut from their long tresses which they're donating to the Little Princess Charity to be used to make wigs for children who have lost their hair for whatever reason.

 Charity Development Manager at County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, Pat Chambers, said, 'We're so proud of Scarlett and Poppy, who are the youngest people so far to take the 2020 pledge.  The money they're raising through demonstrating their love for their dad and grandad, will help create our chemotherapy day unit.   We're delighted with the enthusiasm and support our Appeal is receiving and I'd urge anyone looking to support this worthwhile cause to get in touch.  You could help out at one of our events or run a fundraising event of your own.  We can help with suggestions and advice."

 To contact the Charity Team: email: cddft.charity@nhs.net or phone: 01325 743781.

'I have to compliment everyone on their pleasant persona and their expertise and knowledge. By the end of the 5 days, I did not feel as though I had been in a hospital ward and was very relaxed.'

Patient, Ward 16 Orthopaedics, University Hospital of North Durham