Locks to go for 'hippy doctor'

By Peter de Graaf

Kerikeri's "hippy doctor'' started growing his hair for a cancer patient nine years ago.

Now it's about to come off for another bunch of patients - this time, children in the care of Hospice Mid-Northland.

Simon Bristow, a GP at Kerimed in Ranui Gardens, is one of more than 50 Northlanders taking part in a fundraiser called Bald Angels. Each participant is trying to raise $2000 and will go under the clippers on November 11 in what could be a world record for simultaneous head-shaving.

Dr Bristow said giving up part of his identity would be a wrench.

''It's been quite nice being known as the long-haired hippy doctor. I'll have to find another identity. At least I have a choice - people who have chemotherapy don't.''

The GP said he was losing his locks for a good cause.

''I work a lot with hospice and I think they do a great job, but they have to be supported by this kind of community event.''

Dr Bristow said he first grew his hair long as a student, cut it short when a medical career called for a more professional look, and by nine years ago it was respectably mid-length. Then a patient who was about to start chemotherapy admired the doctor's hair.

"So I said, 'I'll grow it, and you can have it for a wig if you ever need it'.''

Happily, the patient didn't need the wig and made a good recovery - and the hair stayed, at least until November 11.

Dr Bristow has persuaded another Kerimed GP, Tony Steele, and a nurse, Jo Sadgrove, to take part. He's also hoping to issue a challenge to Kerikeri's other medical centre.

Also taking part in the Bald Angels fundraiser is St John Kerikeri boss Nick Scott - fresh from putting his body on the line in last month's Fighting Cancer night - who will shave off his trademark goatee if his total reaches $1000.

If it hits $2000 he will dye his hair pink and keep it that way until the big shave. Mr Scott said that would motivate his colleagues to dip deeper into their pockets.

Others taking part include five Westpac Bank managers and six volunteers from the Bay of Islands Vintage Railway in Kawakawa.

The fundraiser is the brainchild of Cafe Cinema's Therese Wickbom, who wanted to mark her 50th birthday by doing something for children in hospice care. The goal was to enlist 50 Bald Angels, raise $100,000, and possibly set a world record.

* Hairdresser Sharon Sanderson spent four hours putting 106 braids in Dr Bristow's hair during a fundraising breakfast at Cafe Cinema in Kerikeri on October 31. Supporters will be able to bid for the right to snip off a braid on the big day. To join in or sponsor someone, drop in at Cafe Cinema on Kerikeri's Hobson Ave, call (09) 407 9121, or visit BaldAngelsKerikeri on Facebook. Donations can be made to the Bald Angels/Hospice bank account at any branch of the ASB with the sponsored Angel's name as the reference.

- Northern Advocate

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