AN eight-year-old boy who grew his hair long so that he could help children with cancer has raised almost £1,500 in the process.
Ben Avery, from Goring, had his hair cut on Friday for the first time in 18 months and has donated his locks to the Little Princess Trust, which makes wigs for young chemotherapy patients.
It took almost an hour for Sarah Munnings, who owns the Albert Fields hair salon in High Street, Goring, to cut the boy’s hair, which had grown to almost 10 inches.
The hairdresser was helped by Ben’s mother, Ginny, to divide his hair into 13 plaits before snipping off each one and collecting them to be sent to the trust.
Miss Munnings then cut and styled Ben’s hair, watched by a crowd of his friends and family.
Ben had to grow his hair to at least seven inches before the charity could create a wig from it and ignored teasing from classmates at Goring Primary School pupil and being mistaken for a girl.
Mrs Avery, a freelance speech and drama teacher, said: “I think he has done incredibly well.
“He has seen it through in so many ways, coping with the teasing and the misunderstanding and taking it all in his stride. When he has struggled we have said, ‘don’t worry about it, you have done really well’ but he has been totally determined.”
Ben’s father, Keith, said: “I am very proud of him. At school his classmates knew about his long hair and why he was doing it but other people assumed he was a girl.”
People attending Ben’s haircut party were treated to cakes, drinks and free hairstyling in return for donations to the charity.
Supporters were asked to write messages of support on a poster advertising his challenge which Ben will keep as a memento, along with a lock of his hair.
Ben, who lives in Cleeve Mill with his parents and 14-year-old brother Sebastian, chose to support the trust after being on a ward at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading when he was a toddler with a girl who was having chemotherapy and had lost all her hair.
He was frequently rushed to the hospital when he was younger after being born with severe asthma, eczema and allergies to eggs, dairy produce and milk.
When Ben asked his mother why the girl had no hair, she explained what was wrong with her and he replied that he wished he could give her his hair.
When he was six, Ben saw one of his mother’s male students had long hair and decided he wanted a similar style. Mrs Avery reminded him about his experience as a toddler and suggested that he helped the trust, which she had read about.
Each wig costs £350 to make. Ben collected £400 from friends and family and asked his parents to sell his old climbing frame and donated the proceeds to the trust instead of buying him new toys.
Mrs Avery said: “Everybody has been so generous and we have had many anonymous donations. Ben really seems to have captured people’s imaginations, which has been fanastic.”
Ben’s hair has been posted to the trust and he should receive a certificate thanking him for his donation.
To make a donation, visit www.justgiving.com/benedick-avery
Click here to see more pictures from the charity hair cut in our Photo Gallery section.