For many teenagers worrying about their appearance is part and parcel of daily life, however Cross and Passion pupil Ellie McConnell was so moved by children she saw in the Cancer Unit of the Belfast City Hospital that she decided to have her hair cut and donated to the Little Princess Trust.
Ellie, a Year 13 pupil at the Ballycastle school explained: “My Granny has cancer three years ago and when I went to visit her in the cancer unit I saw boys and girls who were under goining chemotherapy, losing their hair and it really upset me.
“Some of the children were only 5-years old and I was so shocked and upset, I cried as I left the hospital. I decided then I wanted to do something and so I got information on the Little Princess Trust who make wigs for children from real hair and so I decided to start growing my hair.”
Three years later and seven inches longer, Ellie finally decided to her treasured tresses cut. “You had to grow your hair to at least seven or eight inches for the Trust to be able to use it but it got to the stage my hair wouldn’t grow any more,” added the Loughgiel teenager.
“I had hoped to grow it until my Upper Sixth formal next year but it got to a stage where it was really hard work maintaining and drying it. I had kind of got used to it being so long and I was a little apprehensive getting it cut. It did feel really short at first but Ive got used to it now and like it. My friends were all a bit scared for me before I got it cut as they loved my long hair but they all like it much better now.
“When I got my hair cut I had to plait it so that it was easy to handle and now it has to be posted off to the Trust Headquarters where it will be made into wigs.
Not only did Ellie grow her hair to donate, she also set up a Just Giving page to raise money. With the help of her form teacher Miss Black and Miss Kelly, the popular pupil organised a bun sale at school in the run up to the Halloween break.
“We raised just over £116 in 20 minutes,” said a delighted Ellie. “When you add that to the money I’ve already had donated I have raised over £415 and I know there is more to come. I can’t believe I have raised so much especially as the page has only been running for a week.
“Hopefully after the Halloween break I will organise another fund raiser. Miss Kelly has said she will help me and I can’t thank her and Miss Black enough for the support they have shown me.”
To donate go to: www.justgiving.com/ellie-o-connell/