A COMMUNITY leader in Southampton is having his two foot-long dreadlocks cut off to help thousands of orphans in Africa – 20 years since he first grew them.

Lou Taylor has arranged for bands to play for a fundraising evening in aid of children in West Africa who have been left without families because of Ebola.

The 55-year-old – who took over the running of Black History Month with Jen Campbell last year – hopes to raise hundreds of pounds for the St George Foundation by having his distinct hairstyle cut off.

The hairdresser who originally twisted them, Carolyn Small, will be taking a pair of scissors to them on Thursday, January 15.

Bands will be playing before the main event at the Merchants Restaurant in Ocean Village from 7.30pm.

Lou explained why he wanted to cut off his locks.

He said: “I was thinking about cutting them off anyway. I was at an event before Christmas and someone there suggested that I do it for charity.

“I hope to raise around £500 and the venue have allowed me to use their place free of charge.”

Based in Swanmore, the foundation supports the thousands of children whose parents have been claimed by the deadly virus but can’t be supported by terrified relatives.

Lou added: “A lot of these children have had all members of their family die from this disease. The surviving members don’t want them in the house because they consider them bad luck.

“These children have absolutely no one. The St George Foundation tries to reconcile them with the relatives. There are 7,000 orphans who have nowhere to go.”

Lou has arranged for acoustic soul singer LST to play at the event and other acts are yet to be arranged.