Horsham pupil to shave her head in act of ‘solidarity’ with mum who lost cancer battle

Lydia Thornhill
Lydia Thornhill

A Horsham pupil is shaving her head in memory of her mum and to raise awareness of cancer.

Lydia Thornhill, from Midhurst, is a year 13 pupil at Christ’s Hospital School and is completing the challenge next Saturday in aid of Classrooms for Kenya and to raise awareness for Cancer Research.

Lydia’s mum lost her battle with cancer five years ago.

Lydia is one of a team of about 50 pupils and staff from Christ’s Hospital who will travel to Kitale in western Kenya in July to build new buildings for impoverished schools currently relying on dangerous mud huts.

In her efforts to fundraise, Lydia is going to shave her head completely and be bald before she goes to Kenya.

This is also to raise awareness for Cancer Research, as she will be donating her hair to the Little Princess Trust through Macmillan’s Brave the Shave campaign.

The Little Princess Trust provides real hair wigs free of charge to children and young people up to the age of 24, who have lost their own hair due to cancer treatment and other conditions.

Lydia said: “Shaving my head for cancer represents an act of solidarity with my mother who passed away and to the other strong women in my life who are still fighting.”

“The shaving will be livestreamed and I am growing my hair out until the date. The countdown begins! I was used to seeing my mum without hair so it doesn’t worry me that I will be bald too – it feels like something I really want to do.

“I am more worried about travelling to Kenya and how upsetting it will be to see children living in poverty.

“But fundraising for and building the classrooms in person seems a really substantial and meaningful way of getting involved and helping Kenyan children.”

The pupils are aiming to build six new classrooms in three different schools. Each pupil has a fundraising target of £300. They have already raised £30,000 but still need to raise £6,000 to reach their target.

Pupils have been raising funds through a variety of methods, including runs and triathlons, cake bakes, setting up an online bookshop and forgoing their sixteenth birthday presents to ask for sponsorship instead.

Will Richards, physics and trip organiser added: “Funding and building these new classrooms will have a hugely beneficial impact on Kitale’s children and young adults.”

The trip also aims to provide Christ’s Hospital students with a powerful and life-shaping experience where they both work hard to contribute positively to a community and have the opportunity to experience Kenya’s natural beauty.

The lead up to the trip will also see students learning key life skills through a weekly activity session, such as basic first aid, cultural awareness, team building and leadership experiences.

Lydia is coming to the end of her last year at the school, where she has been a pupil for the last seven years.

She said: “I feel like I’ve been living in nostalgia for the last year and I haven’t even left yet! I am not a religious person, but I love chapel here at Christ’s Hospital and that we have a real community. I have formed so many close bonds with kids from all sorts of different backgrounds; it’s going to be really difficult to leave.”

Classrooms for Kenya was established in 2006 by teachers and students at The Weald School, West Sussex. Since 2006 the charity has built over 70 new classrooms for over 20 different schools in Kenya. To donate see uk.virginmoneygiving.com/LydiaThornhill1 or www.virginmoneygiving.com/fund/chkenya