Sunderland mum shaves hair to help sick toddler

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HAIR today, gone tomorrow –mum-of-two Claire Johnston has undergone a drastic close shave to help others.

The 29-year-old, from Silksworth, has had her bum-length black tresses completely shaved off in a bid to raise funds for a little boy as he fights for life.

Brave Claire Johnston has her long thick hair shaved off for charity by Claire Gilby at the Golden Fleece  pub in Silksworth, Sunderland. Claire shows off her long locks.

Brave Claire Johnston has her long thick hair shaved off for charity by Claire Gilby at the Golden Fleece pub in Silksworth, Sunderland. Claire shows off her long locks.

Jack Baird, two, from Ryhope, who has rare Sanfilippino Syndrome, has touched the hearts of Wearsiders after the Echo reported that his family is hoping to raise £580,000 to fund pioneering treatment.

The toddler is not expected to live past his teenage years as he gradually deteriorates but a new drug could offer him the chance of survival.

Claire has known Jack’s mum Gemma Nelson since their school years and was determined to do all she could to help him.

“People have been doing a sponsored skate and bungee jump to help Jack,” she said. “I can’t do that though as I have had a hip replacement.

“This seemed to be something I could do which would be drastic enough to raise money. I think what the family are doing for him is brilliant.”

Claire, who is mum to Leon-Thomas, two, and Bradley, nine, has been growing her luscious locks for five years but had a grade two shave at a fund-raising night held at the Golden Fleece pub in Silksworth.

She said: “I don’t think people believed I was actually going to do it. But I’m known for doing mad things.”

While sponsorship money will go to Jack’s fund, Claire’s hair will be donated to the Little Princess Trust which provides real hair wigs for children who lose their hair due to cancer treatment.

Jack’s mum Gemma said: “What Claire has done is very brave and very kind. Hair means so much to a woman.”

She added: “I’d also like to thank the band Soulville who came to the charity night at the last minute to help and an anonymous person who donated £1,000.”

Gemma’s youngest son was diagnosed at 16 months old with the syndrome, which gradually destroys brain function and physical ability.

It affects one in 85,000 children.

Along with 19 other children, Jack has been selected to take part in a new drug trial at Manchester Children’s Hospital but money is needed to fund the treatment.

Gemma said: “Once the trial is carried out the treatment can be made available, at very little cost, for Jack and other children with this disease all over the world.”

Twitter: @sunechokaty