Two teachers at St Mary’s School put on a hair-raising show last Thursday at the charitable ‘Shave Off’ event. Before an audience of students and parents, Mr Stangroom shaved his head and Mr Downes waxed his legs in order to raise money for Oliver Warner, a 6 year old boy with a rare form of cancer. Oliver, who lives in Mr Stangroom’s village and attends the same school as his son, needs to raise £500,000 for treatment. In sponsoring their teachers to lose their hair, the St Mary’s community is hoping to bring Oliver one small step closer to recovery.
The idea came from Mr Adam Stangroom, the Music teacher at St Mary’s. Although he does not personally know Oliver, he wanted to help the little boy in his pursuit of treatment. Oliver was first diagnosed with high-risk neuroblastoma in 2016 at the age of only 3, and though he initially beat the disease and started school, he relapsed in January this year. This devastating turn of events reduced his chance of survival to less than 10%, yet he is unable to access the treatment he needs on the NHS. With the help of the charity ‘Solving Kids Cancer’ and campaigns like the Shave Off, Oliver’s family are fundraising for him to receive immunotherapy treatment in Barcelona in the new year. However, the 6-8 month treatment process costs £203k, which the family needs to raise by the end of December. If they succeed, they will then look at a second phase of treatment in the USA, bringing the total cost of his care to around £500k.
Speaking about the fundraising Shave Off, Mr Stangroom explained, “I just needed to do something silly. It’s not about me or Mr Downes or anything like that — this is all about raising awareness for Oliver’s fight, and the fundraising he needs to get the treatment he needs to get better. No little boy should grow up being poorly. He needs the same chance that all the other lucky boys and girls have to see every Christmas as they’re growing up. We just need to do what we can to help him.”
Students giggled and cheered as Mr Stangroom lost his locks, and the short haired transformation went down a storm, with many children saying that he ought to keep the new style. PE teacher Mr Stephen Downes, meanwhile, experienced a new kind of pain when he waxed both of his legs for the first time. Thankfully, he was in the hands of professionals, as Georgia and Ava from Cannelle Medispa (in Hart St) offered their services for free to support the cause. “It was a bit worse than I thought,” he reflected, sporting his new smooth legs. “It was a bit painful but it’s worth it. I don’t mind going through a bit of pain for a good cause. If we help to get him near the total of half a million pounds then that’s great. At the moment they’re at £7,000, so there’s a long way to go but hopefully we can keep doing this and we’ll get him to the target, which will be great. The more people who hear about it the better.”
Currently, the St Mary’s Shave Off fundraising page shows a total of £1,097 — a brilliant amount for Oliver and his family. Mr Stangroom stated, “I appreciate everyone’s help so far. The school in Bramley where we live have raised £10,000, and we’re quite a small village. Everyone’s really chipping in and doing their bit. Thank you so much for coming. Help if you can, and if not please share and let’s get the message out there because there’s still a long way to go.”
If you would like to help Oliver, and spread some kindness this Christmas, please donate to the Shave Off fund at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/stmarysfundraisingforoliver