Fund-raiser is a close shave

Melissa Chirnside (left) , Barber Wayne Morgan and Michelle Stewart raise money for St Oswald's Hospice by holding a sponsored headshave and they are seen at Morpeth Market Square.
Melissa Chirnside (left) , Barber Wayne Morgan and Michelle Stewart raise money for St Oswald's Hospice by holding a sponsored headshave and they are seen at Morpeth Market Square.

A HAIR-RAISING tribute is being lined up to a Morpeth mum, a year after she lost her battle with cancer.

Big-hearted Thomasina Dodds died on May 21 last year at the age of just 56.

Now, as the first anniversary of her death approaches, her daughter Melissa Chirnside and friend Michelle Stewart hope to raise £1,000 in her memory.

The pair have organised a fund-raising night in aid of St Oswald’s Hospice as a thank you for its excellent care of Mrs Dodds. There will be an Elvis impersonator in honour of her love for the singer, a raffle supported by local businesses, and hopes of a drag queen act.

But the organisers will be top of the bill with a daring headshave.

Mrs Stewart, who works as a toilet attendant, is going for a full headshave, while Miss Chirnside, who has her own beauty business, is opting for a half-head.

“It is coming up to a year since Thomasina died and we just want to give something back to St Oswald’s because they treated her fabulously,” said Mrs Stewart.

“She was from a big family and everybody was welcome to visit her in the hospice, there weren’t any restrictions.

“I’m starting to build up to the first anniversary now and if I stop and think about it I could just start crying. It’s good that we’ve got this to concentrate on so we feel like we are doing something positive.”

The fund-raiser follows on from Mrs Dodds’ own remarkable support for the charity as just three weeks before her death she organised a collection from her hospice bed to buy much-needed heat packs for the facility.

Prior to her efforts the hospice had about ten packs to be shared by patients, but after the collection, there was enough to buy another 30 or 40.

Her daughter said: “The hospice was absolutely fantastic. The staff were brilliant, just amazing, but as a charity it has to rely completely on what it gets from people so that’s why we’re raising this money.

“It would be great if we could get £1,000 — that’s the target. It would make a big difference to the hospice.”

Miss Chirnside is anxious about the headshave, but says it will be worth it to raise the cash.

“Michelle is having all her hair shaved off, but I’m only brave enough to go for the half-head. I’m going to my friend’s wedding in the morning so I’m getting my hair plaited so they can only take half the hair off and go no further,” she said.

“I’m a real girlie girl and I love my hair, but I always said to my mam that if she lost her hair I would have mine shaved off. I’m really nervous, but I know it’s for a good cause and £1,000 to St Oswald’s will mean a lot.

“I will do more fund-raising in the future, but this is the one and only headshave.”

The shave will be carried out by staff at Dave’s The Gentleman’s Barbers.

Mrs Stewart has been dyeing her hair various colours to raise interest in the event – red for Comic Relief and green at present.

“I never really look at my hair so it all goes over the top of my head,” she said.

“I’m quite excited about the shave. It’s a little price to pay to be able to give something back to St Oswald’s. For two to three weeks to grow back it’s nothing to me.”

She added: “Thomasina was my best friend. She always gave good advice and she was always somebody I could turn to.

“It has been a difficult year. She left a massive gap.”

Miss Chirnside said: “Everybody loved my mam. She had the biggest heart going and she would give anybody her last.”

The fund-raising night will take place at the Waterford Lodge in Morpeth on Saturday, May 18. Tickets cost £10 and are available from Mrs Stewart at Morpeth Bus Station toilets.