Aberdare girl, 11, donates afro hair after six-year wait

“It feels really light on my head! I hope this inspires people to give money and donate their hair.”

Poppy’s recent haircut was a long time coming.

In fact, she spent more than half her life growing her hair – all in anticipation of this visit to the hairdresser.

From the age of five, Poppy had wanted to donate her hair to charity.

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She had previously been told that wig-makers could not work with afro hair as it was too delicate.

She said she was “over the moon” to finally be donating, thanks to a new technique which meant she was finally able to give her afro hair to the Little Princess Trust.

“It just feels so overwhelming and we’re just so proud of her and the fact that she stuck to it.”


Poppy just before the haircut


Poppy, from Aberdare, Rhondda Cynon Taf, said she just wanted “to help and be generous”.

“It’s important to donate afro hair because it’s a big part of people’s identity,” she added.

But it has not just been about donating hair. While her hair was growing, Poppy and her parents started fundraising for the charity and have raised more than £2,750.

The Little Princess Trust provides wigs for children who have lost hair while undergoing cancer treatment or for other reasons.

Hand-tying an individual wig can take between 30 and 60 hours and sometimes requires up to 12 or 14 individual hair donations.

Previously, the charity made afro-styled wigs from European straight hair, styled into a tight curl.

It had been unable to find a wig manufacturer able to work with donations from black and black mixed race people. In the usual wig-making process, afro hair would easily break.

But in 2021, after working with London-based wig-makers Raoul, a wefting method was developed, which means the charity can now accept afro hair.

Chief executive of the Little Princess Trust, Phil Brace, said: “We wanted to just give that extra choice and ensure that we could give that heritage wig – that heritage afro hair.

“It’s always bittersweet because we’d rather not be having to supply these wigs at all.

“There are enough challenges with hair loss for a young person, without having to worry about whether they get the wig they want.”

He added that the charity had appealed for more afro hair donations and described Poppy’s donation as a “selfless act of kindness”.


Poppy's haircut


Hearing the news that Poppy could at last donate her hair was “really special,” according to her mum, Beki Lee-Burrowes.

“To know that a child suffering from cancer, who’s having a horrible time in their life, for them to have access to hair that represents them and their identity… being part of that is really important to us,” she said.

“She’s definitely a ‘hair-o’!”


Poppy's hair


Mum, Jessica Lee-Burrowes said she hoped her daughter’s story would lead to more people donating hair.

“It just feels so overwhelming and we’re just so proud of her and the fact that she stuck to it.”

This is not the end of the road for Poppy, though. She said she was ready to grow her hair and donate again.

“I can’t wait to do this again in the future,” she said.

“I’m really proud of what I did today and I’m really excited.”

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