A mother from Grantham who shaved her hair off for charity after three of her family members were diagnosed with cancer has taken part in an emotional photoshoot – just days after one of them died from the disease.
Heather Paddison, 30, decided to sign up for Macmillan Cancer Support’s Brave the Shave after three of her relatives were all diagnosed with cancer.
Her great uncle Lionel Lund, 85, has stomach cancer and her uncle Steve Evans, 62, has mouth cancer. Her aunt Sheila Moore, 56, died of breast cancer just four days before Heather’s headshave which she did with her friend Natasha Holmes.
All money raised from the fund-raiser enables the charity to help more people affected by cancer and bookkeeper Heather wants her actions to mean even more families receive support.
Her new look was captured on camera by world-famous photographer Rankin, who lost his own mother to cancer, as part of a moving photoshoot.
The celebrity photographer, who works with the likes of Kate Moss and Heidi Klum, invited eight people with loved ones affected by cancer to his London studio.
He spent the day photographing, filming and interviewing each person about the personal experiences, which have inspired them to Brave the Shave.
Heather, who was photographed with her one-year-old son Billy, said: “I had done sponsored runs before and I just wanted to do something different. I thought the shock factor of having my head shaved would encourage people to donate more money to the great cause.
“Then when my aunt died, I was in two minds whether to go ahead with the shave as it felt like terrible timing for my family. But I decided it was actually the perfect timing because over the last few weeks in particular, Macmillan supported my aunt and my family so much.
“It meant the head shave became my way of thanking Macmillan for their amazing work, as well as showing my family that I was thinking of them.
“It also made me even more determined to raise as much money as possible, so that the charity could help another family, the way they helped mine.”
More than half (55%) of the 23,000 people who took part in Brave the Shave last year had seen the impact cancer had on a loved one and wanted to do something to make a difference.
Rankin teamed up with Macmillan Cancer Support to showcase these personal motivations and use his bold style to show the emotive stories behind the headshaves.
The famous photographer gave eight people the opportunity to be photographed and filmed shaving their heads at his studio.
Heather added: “It was an emotional day as I was still trying to get my head around our sad news about my aunt Sheila. It was moving to hear other people’s stories. When you come together with others you realise how, sadly, cancer affects many people in some way.
“But it was an honour to be part of the photoshoot, and I just hope that the campaign will encourage others to do what they can to fund-raise.
“It was an experience I’ll never forget and I hope we’ve done my aunt and my family proud.”
Macmillan fund-raising manager Lisa Shorter said: “Heather is one of the many people inspired to do Brave the Shave because of someone close to her. We know not everyone can run a marathon or climb a mountain, and Brave the Shave is another way to help the millions of people diagnosed with cancer each year, and we are so grateful to everyone who takes part.”
Rankin added: “This was an incredible project to work on and one very close to my heart. I know how hard it is to watch someone you love go through cancer from the sidelines. It can make you feel totally helpless.
“Like Heather, everyone who came to my studio was there because someone they care about deeply has been impacted by cancer – and as a result, they have too. But their Brave the Shave means Macmillan Cancer Support can be there for millions more people affected by cancer and their families, and I am in awe of them for that.”
You can sponsor Heather by visiting bravetheshave.org.uk/shavers/heather-paddison/
Find out more by visiting www.bravetheshave.org.uk