Sonya is a social issues reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

Kindest cut reaches out to surgery recipients

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Hamish MacMillan post shave. Pictured with Joanna Dabrowski (left) and Margo Mossop from the Ruel Foundation and daughter Emily.
Hamish MacMillan post shave. Pictured with Joanna Dabrowski (left) and Margo Mossop from the Ruel Foundation and daughter Emily.

The sacrifice of a full beard and two mullets means 200 children in Third World countries will have access to life-changing medical care.

Oceanside Family Chiropractic owner Hamish MacMillan's beard shave raised $10,700 for the Tauranga-based Ruel Foundation, which helps children in the Philippines, Vanuatu and Fiji get medical treatment for cleft lip and palate problems and other medical conditions.

I was pretty certain I would never shave my beard off for any reason, but this was a great reason.
Hamish MacMillan

Dr MacMillan's daughter Emily was born with a cleft lip and has had numerous surgeries to correct it, so he knows first hand how life-changing medical intervention can be. He set up a Givealittle page and said if he managed to raise $5000, he would shave off his beard.

Hamish MacMillan's daughter Emily gets a turn shaving her dad's beard.
Hamish MacMillan's daughter Emily gets a turn shaving her dad's beard.

Dr MacMillan's big shave was arranged for Saturday night, by which time he had raised $8943. He needed an extra $57 to reach $9000, so he asked his audience to donate just a bit more money.

Friends Chris Atkinson and Nick Smith offered to shave their mullets off to bring the total up, and an extra $700 was raised. The local Nga Uri o Te Ngahere Trust also pitched in, giving $1000.

"It's just wicked," Dr MacMillan said. "I was pretty certain I would never shave my beard off for any reason, but this was a great reason."

Joanna Dabrowski, assistant to the Ruel Foundation chief executive, said the result was "absolutely fantastic".

"We really struggle for funding, partly, I think, because it's an overseas-based charity. We really want people to know how important the Ruel Foundation is.

"In New Zealand, from the moment you're born, surgeries will be taken care of, whereas we're dealing with children living in countries where that is not an option because of isolation, or because of poverty. And there's no Government health system for these children."

Mrs Dabrowski said Dr MacMillan's offer to fundraise for the charity was "like winning Lotto".

Read more: A Bay father's sacrifice

"With this kind of money, we can do a lot of surgeries. I can't say exactly how many because it's different depending on what area we go to ... I wouldn't be surprised if we end up doing surgeries for at least 200 children this year. It might even be more than that."

The foundation normally looked at 60 children a year.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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