Tony Britton, Fundraising and PR Manager, ME Association.
The head shave – it’s almost the ultimate sacrifice that people can make for their favourite charity. But look at these two fabulous fundraisers who undertook the sacrifice: don’t they still look great!
Helen Leonard-Williams and Helen McLean entered the ME Association’s Headshave Hall of Fame after they let the scissors loose during ME Awareness Week.
Nineteen-year-old Helen Leonard-Williams relaxed in the garden of the family home in Leicester before allowing the deed to be done.
She chose to support the MEA Ramsay Research Fund and was thrilled when, in next to no time, an incredible £2,500 was donated by well-wishers to her JustGiving fundraising page.
In fact, two charities will benefit from her fundraiser. Helen had her hair cut off as a pony tail which was then sent to The Little Princess Trust who make wigs for children going through cancer treatment.
Helen became very ill with M.E. two and a half years ago after having a heavy cold. She struggled through her A-levels but has had to put plans to go to university on hold. She still has severe pain and becomes extremely exhausted every single day.
On her fundraising page she explained that, although she had greatly enjoyed having long hair, it was difficult to look after when she felt really ill and it felt severely sensitive to any touch.
The MEA Ramsay Research Fund appealed to her particularly because it is supporting six important research projects.
“Even a small donation will make so much difference and provide a glimmer of hope to millions of people suffering from this devastating disease,” she said.
Helen McLean will never forget the 16th June 2016. She caught a cold that left her feeling extremely fatigued; even brushing her teeth was too much effort.
Within three weeks, she had been forced to give up her life in London and was seeking shelter at her parents’ home in Northwich, Cheshire.
Helen, who was eventually diagnosed with M.E., remains there today – a former professional actress and singer with two other ME Association fundraisers behind her: she dyed her hair blue in 2018 and recorded two blue-related songs last year.
It’s a quieter life now but she’s thankful that she is not one of the most severely affected.
Talk to her about the times she loved best and she remembers the hard graft that went into appearances with the Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company at the month-long International G and S Festival at Buxton Opera House in Derbyshire. She performed 11 shows with them over five summers.
Her social life in London was full of productions with amateur companies. “There are some great amateur companies there with lots of professional, retired, and newly trained actors taking part,” she said.
And when she wasn’t appearing on stage (or in crypts or graveyards – performing took her to some very strange places!) she worked in music publishing.
Her family recorded last week’s head shave on the drive in front of their house, with a locked-down, socially-distanced performance so the neighbours could watch. A YouTube video was made.
“I’ll tell you this. I’ve not been applauded like that for three or four years. It felt wonderful!”
Donations in support of Helen’s efforts are edging up towards £800. If you would like to contribute, please visit her JustGiving page.
ME Awareness Month – May 2020
The Lost Years
The ME Association
Please support our vital work
We are a national charity working hard to make the UK a better place for people whose lives have been devastated by an often-misunderstood neurological disease.
If you would like to support our efforts and ensure we are able to inform, support, advocate and invest in biomedical research, then please donate today.
Just click the image opposite or visit our JustGiving page for one-off donations or to establish a regular payment. You can even establish your own fundraising event.
ME Association Registered Charity Number 801279