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Schoolgirl cuts long hair to raise thousands for hospice

BEFORE THE BIG CHOP: From left; Becci McKenzie, Geraldine Dowling and Jenaya McKenzie

A YOUNG girl has had her long plaits cut off to raise thousands of pounds for a hospice.

Jenaya McKenzie, nine, organised the big chop, cutting her long hair, to raise money for John Taylor Hospice. So far she’s raised £2,751 for the Birmingham hospice.

She also donated her locks so that they can be used to make wigs for young children.

Jenaya was inspired to organise the fundraiser as a way of supporting the hospice whose staff are currently caring for her great aunt Geraldine Dowling.

Dowling, aged 57, was diagnosed with bowel and secondary cancer and is currently receiving care at the hospice’s in-patient unit.

Jenaya, who is donating her hair to the Little Princess Trust, a charity that provides free real hair wigs to children and young people, up to 24 years, who have lost their own hair through cancer treatment or other conditions, admitted to some nerves before the big chop.

“I’ve never had short hair and I am a bit nervous,” she said.

Jenaya's charitable initiative was also her way of thanking the hospice for caring for her grandmother Eileen McKenzie, who was cared for in her Erdington home by John Taylor’s community teams before she died in 2017 at the age of 63.

More than 20 friends and family joined together to encourage Jenaya as she had her long hair cut at John Taylor Hospice’s Living Well Centre.

Hairdresser Jade Dowling, who is also Jenaya’s second cousin, and Jenaya’s mum, Becci McKenzie, snipped the plaits as well-wishers cheered the trio on.

PICTURED: From left; Jade Dowling, Jenaya and Becci McKenzie

“Jenaya wanted to do something to say thank you to the hospice after my mom passed away but we just didn’t get round to it then,” said 30-year-old McKenzie. “But now the hospice is caring for my aunt Geraldine it felt like the perfect time.”

She added: “The care that mom received was wonderful so when my aunt became ill we knew straight away that we wanted John Taylor Hospice to care for her.”

McKenzie says she has been blown away by the support given by friends and family to Jenaya.

“When she said she wanted to do this we set up a Facebook donation page and in just one day she had raised £800! I am so proud of her,” she said.

The schoolgirl was presented with a certificate and medal from the hospice in recognition of her fundraising achievement.

CHARITABLE: Jenaya with her certificate and medal

John Taylor Hospice head of fundraising Katie Mitchell praised the youngster.

“Raising £2,751 is a totally amazing total – Jenaya should be really proud of herself. We are also grateful to her friends and family for supporting her and donating to the hospice.

“Jenaya and her family have seen at first hand the care we can provide and it’s wonderful that they wanted to give back to ensure that more families can receive that expert care when they need it.”

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