Community clips in to boost hospice funding

By Peter de Graaf

More than 60 Northlanders have gone bald in a mass head-shaving event to raise money for children in the care of Hospice Mid-Northland.<inline type="photogallery" id="16048" align="outside" embed="no" />

A wide range of people took part in the Bald Angels fundraiser at Kerikeri's Turner Centre on Sunday evening, including a St John paramedic, a regional councillor, a policeman, a four-year-old boy, bank managers and volunteers from Kawakawa's vintage railway.

Many of those taking part had their own stories of friends or family members cared for by hospice, but one of the most poignant tales was that of 13-year-old Larissa Cox. Fresh from her latest stay at Starship Hospital, where she has had three open-heart operations over the years, the Kerikeri teenager gave up her hair to help kids whose predicament was worse than her own. She was joined by almost her entire family.

The night also saw one unplanned head-shaving when the former ''hippy doctor'' Simon Bristow offered $500 to shave his wife Sharon's head. When the audience chipped in another $500 there was no backing out.

Dr Bristow is expected to have some serious making-up to do at home, but he will be able to argue it was for a good cause.

So far the event has raised $25,000 with more expected over the next few weeks.

Perhaps the happiest punter on the night was Steve Barnes, who paid $50 to fulfil a long-held dream of taking the clippers to his teenage son Callum Robertson-Barnes' long hair.

Bald Angels was the brainchild of Cafe Cinema co-owner Therese Wickbom of Kerikeri, who wanted to do something special to mark her 50th birthday, and her friend Inky Storms of Takou Bay.

Mrs Wickbom said she had been amazed by the response to her idea. She likened it to a droplet which had spread and turned into a Northland-wide tsunami of goodness.

Hospice Mid-Northland manager Lauren Demblon said she had never seen a fundraiser on such a scale or with so much community support.

- Northern Advocate

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