WHEN 12-year-old Millie Williams paid her very first visit to the hairdressers, she did so for a very good reason.
“I was donating my hair to the Rapunzel Foundation,” explained Millie.
“It can be used to make wigs for those suffering from hair loss due to cancer, or from alopecia.
“When Lily, a girl in school, cut her hair for charity, it got me thinking. I researched how to go about it and we rang the Irish Cancer Society.
“Origins is one of the salons involved with the Rapunzel Foundation. So we decided to make the appointment to get my hair cut.
“A family friend cuts a half inch off my hair every so often just to keep it in good condition.”
“Millie is very brave,” says her Mum, Anne. “She is very kind and she is very kind-hearted. I am so proud of her.”
Millie’s dad, Michael, sadly passed away from cancer on Christmas Eve five years ago.
“We were fortunate to be provided with the services of a Night Nurse from the Irish Cancer Society so that we could all get a few hours sleep,” says Anne.
“It was great to feel that somebody else was in control for a while.
“It is seems funny looking back now at that night, remembering how we were all in one room, us and Nana in one bed and Michael in another bed, with the nurse watching over us all,” says Anne.
“It seemed like she was not only minding Michael; but that she was minding all of us.”
Michael always minded his daughters; Millie and her older sister, Tianha, aged 14.
“He helped us with our homework,” says Millie, who is a pupil at St John the Baptist, Midleton.
“When we didn’t always listen to mum’s advice, dad persuaded us to do the right thing. When we were upset; he made us feel better. Dad taught me to cycle. We went round the estate so that I could get used to the bike. And when we were younger; he always read us bed-time stories.”
Michael always enjoyed good health. When he became tired and fatigued for no apparent reason, he got checked out.
“He had lung cancer. He was given three to six months to live. He lived for four months after being diagnosed. Michael received great care in the Mercy Hospital.”
Marymount was a source of support for the family after Michael passed away.
“They provided extra support for the kids afterwards,” says Anne. “Through things like play therapy.”
The family want to give something back.
Millie was excited, but a bit apprehensive, about cutting her long, luxuriant, shiny black hair.
“I’ve never worn it short,” says Millie. “It will be a bit of a change.”
But she did have her thick, black hair cut when she was very small. Anne smiles.
“Yes, Millie came to us when she was three months old. Her hair was so thick; she’d already had a haircut!”
Everybody has been touched by Millie’s kind big-hearted gesture to help others suffering from the effects of cancer and alopecia.
“The school principal came into my classroom at second break and she told the class what I was doing,” says Millie.
There were added benefits.
“I got homework off,” adds Millie. “That was great!
“My teacher, Miss Johnson, sponsored me as well.”
Millie has the support from young and old alike.
“Our school caretaker, Phil, wrote me a lovely letter,” says Millie. “He said that I was doing a very good thing.
“He sponsored me for €20, which was very generous of him.”
Others are working away in the background.
“My Nana, when she’s out and about, asked friends and relatives to sponsor me,” says Millie.
Her target of €350 has easily been surpassed.
“As of today, Millie has raised €2,000,” says Anne. “Everyone has been touched.”
Millie’s beautiful abundant hair measures 27 inches.
“Fourteen inches of hair, or a pony-tail, is the requirement for the Rapunzel Foundation,” says Anna, the hairdresser who is cutting Millie’s hair. “It has to be clean and natural.”
Anna measures the length with a measuring tape.
“It won’t be really short,” says Millie. “Just lighter.”
Anna wraps the hair in
with a bobble and cuts the longest braid. All done.