Video: Norwich teen shaves all her hair off on her sixteenth birthday to raise money for cancer charity

To celebrate her 16th birthday and raise awareness and money for cancer sufferers, City Academy pupil Amber Reeve has her head shaved.
Photo by Simon Finlay. To celebrate her 16th birthday and raise awareness and money for cancer sufferers, City Academy pupil Amber Reeve has her head shaved. Photo by Simon Finlay.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014
9:04 PM

A brave Norwich teenager has sacrificed her flowing locks by having her head shaved for charity on her sixteenth birthday.

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City Academy Norwich student Amber Reeve decided to mark her special birthday with the stunt to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support.

Amber, from Earlham, said: “Although I have never been directly affected by cancer, there are students and teachers at my school who have been and I wanted to show my support for them.”

And although she admitted it was going to take a bit of getting used to, she added: “I just think we don’t realise how lucky we are. I had the choice to shave my hair off and I didn’t have the cancer that comes with it.”

Amber, who is planning to study uniformed public services at Easton College after taking her GSCEs this year, was partly inspired after seeing her PE teacher, Jo Tilson, battle breast cancer.

Miss Tilson, 28, was diagnosed in April last year, and underwent surgery, six sessions of chemotherapy and radiotherapy every day for four and a half weeks. She is now in remission and started back at school last month after nine months off and was proud to do the honours and shave Amber’s head at a special event after school today.

Miss Tilson said: “I remember shaving my head and I felt like I just needed to get out of the house straight away. I felt quite liberated by it because when your hair falls out through chemotherapy your scalp is quite sore. I lost my eyebrows and eyelashes too and I had to pluck up courage to come into school, but everyone was supportive.”

She added: “I think Amber’s really brave and I think she’s inspirational and fearless.

“It’s such a selfless act that she has done in support of people who don’t have a choice about whether or not they lose their hair because of the treatment they have.”

As Amber descended from the first floor of the academy’s atrium towards the platform where she was to have her locks chopped off, the crowd of around a hundred pupils and teachers sang happy birthday.

With her family and friends seated in the front row, and scores of pupils looking down from the balcony above, Amber’s hair was first plaited and then cut off by Miss Tilson to cheers of applause, so it could be donated to a charity which makes wigs for children with cancer.

A matter of minutes later, the stage was littered with Amber’s remaining locks and her mum Julie was on hand with ear muffs and woolly hats as dad David joked that she would probably find her new haircut a bit cold.

Mike Dean, who organises the Duke of Edinburgh Awards scheme in which Amber takes part, said: “I’m really proud of Amber because normally you have to encourage students to do things for charity and for other people and she has done this completely off her own back.”

Shaun Campbell, Macmillan’s fundraising manager for Norfolk, said: “It’s brilliant that Amber has done this to support us, especially as she is only 16. All of the money raised will stay locally. Every day 15 people in Norfolk are diagnosed with cancer and seven people die from cancer.”

To donate to Amber’s charity head shave, log on towww.justgiving.com/amber-reeve/

For help and support to hold your own Macmillan charity event, call 0300 100 200.

Do you have a story about an inspirational teenager? Contact reporter Kim Briscoe on 01603 772474 or email kim.briscoe@archant.co.uk

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