Who am I?

I am Ruth McPherson, a former Trustee for the Charity Autoimmune Alopecia Research UK (AAR-UK) and now, since the merger, a Trustee for Alopecia UK.

How did I get involved with AAR-UK?

I first got involved with AAR-UK after meeting the charity's Founder Jayne Waddell in September 2014. I was inspired by her enthusiasm and drive to find answers for people with alopecia and decided that I wanted to do something proactive to help too. This gave me the idea to do a 'Wig Free Week' fundraiser for the charity in October 2015 which was a huge success and raised over £10,000. Shortly afterwards, in March 2016, I was asked to join the board of AAR-UK as a Trustee. 

What is my alopecia story?

I developed alopecia totalis at age 18 having just left school. Losing my hair was traumatic, as I didn’t understand what was happening to my body and was unable to control it. Every time I found clumps of hair in my hairbrush or on my pillow, I felt sick with worry and embarrassment. When I had barely any hair left I decided to start wearing a wig. Over the years I have experimented with many wigs of different cuts and colours, even going peroxide blonde throughout my university year!
 
For almost ten years I hid the fact that I had alopecia from everyone except close friends and family and it was only when I did my 'Wig Free Week' for AAR-UK that I was able to finally open up and speak publicly about it. This felt like a huge weight had lifted from my shoulders and for the first time in my life I was able to realised that I could look attractive and feel confident without any hair.
 
I still wear a wig most days but sometimes I go without it during the summer, when I'm exercising or if I just don't feel like wearing it. I feel much happier in myself now that I've taken back control and want to help others to do the same.

What are my hopes for Alopecia UK?

I'm delighted to be joining Alopecia UK and look forward to doing more to support the alopecia community. As my day job is in marketing, I am keen to lend my expertise to AUK campaigns and branding as well as helping with the website and social media. I am also planning to get involved with GP education and hope to set up a mentoring service for people who have been recently diagnosed.