THEY have been her crowning glory for more than 40 years.
But on Friday, Cath Ferris will be having her long brown locks shaved off to help raise money to fight cancer, in memory of her brother-in-law who died from the disease.
The mother-of-three from Southampton who works as a project manager at Specsavers decided she wanted to do something to raise money in memory of Clive Symonds, the late husband of her older sister, Chris.
A scheduled ankle operation has meant she hasn’t been able to take part in the cycle rides, runs and walks that the rest of the family have been doing.
But a joke conversation with her hairdresser led to her deciding to sacrifice her signature look and raise some money for Cancer Research UK.
She explains that Clive’s death was a huge shock to the whole family.
After a number of suspected chest infections that wouldn’t get better, he was taken to hospital by ambulance with severe breathing difficulties on a Saturday in November 2012. By the evening of the Monday he had passed away – tests established he’d had leukaemia.
It’s the same disease that took her little nephew back in 1991, when he was aged just four and a half. Since then, Cath has also lost two uncles and an aunt as well as family friends to cancer.
Clive, who was 60 when he died, was the father of two grown-up children and Cath describes him as ‘the absolute pillar of our family’.
She remembers that the family used to jokingly call him ‘Del Boy’ because he always knew how to sort everything out.
Cath on her wedding day with her much-missed brother-in-law Clive
“He was always the one you would turn to for help and advice, from personal stuff to there being something wrong with your house, and he’d always be able to help you out,” she remembers.
She explains that the idea to raise money in his memory by shaving her hair off came when her hairdresser explained that she couldn’t dye her hair a different colour and she joked: ‘so you’re saying I should shave it all off and start again.’ At first her husband, Paul, was horrified with the idea but he came round to it.
Cath is planning on leaving her hair its natural colour, which she says will be ‘more salt than pepper’ and adds that rather than be nervous about having it taken off she is excited to see what it looks like and to experiment with new short styles.
“My husband has a shaved head so we’ve joked that we’re going to look like the Mitchell Brothers for a couple of weeks!
“The worst that’s going to happen is that I’ll be bald for a couple of weeks and then it will grow back. I will prefer that to how it is now, because my hairdresser told me not to have it dyed so it’s two colours at the moment.”
Cath set herself a target of raising £2,000 but has already raised more than £3,000, with sponsorship and other fundraising events, including a golf day. And she is hoping that Friday’s event will raise more than £1,000.
“I’m hoping to double my original target and raise at least £4,000 in Clive’s memory,”
she says. “That would be amazing.”
- To sponsor Cath, visit justgiving.com/Cath-Ferris
- For more information about Cancer Research UK's volunteering opportunities, visit cancerresearchuk.org/support-us/volunteer