As any parent knows, once your children are born your life and priorities change forever, and I am no different, as a proud parent of two beautiful daughters aged 8 and 10.

My eldest Daughter, Lola, suffers from alopecia areata, and has done since the age of 4. 

Like many stories we have read, it all started with a few small patches of hair loss, that were easy to hide, and quickly grew back. However, over the last two years, the condition has become more frequent and aggressive and resulting in complete hair loss now, on two occasions – turning life upside down a little it has to be said.

This total hair loss opened us, and Lola, up to a whole new world we didn’t even know existed – wigs, toppers, headwear, lace caps, silicon caps, synthetic hair, human hair, density, colour, length…… ARGH!!! Plus a whole raft of psychological, emotional and social challenges faced by a young girl growing up with the condition. IT AINT EASY.

The thing that makes alopecia such a pain in the ass, is that you never know when it is going to start or how rapid and widespread the hair loss is going to be. Meaning it’s very difficult to “manage” – I’ll come onto that word in a bit. 

Couple that with the fact that there is no cure for alopecia, there are a variety of treatments on offer, unfortunately, none are guaranteed to work; and you suddenly find yourself feeling pretty helpless when trying to support your own Daughter - not a nice feeling for any parent.

The more that alopecia has become part of Lola’s life and the more conversations we’ve had with medical professionals and other alopecia sufferers I am staggered by the fact that for too long it has been viewed as a "cosmetic" problem, and not received the funding or focus needed to help tackle the disease.

As an aside, I got sick of hearing the words “acceptance” and “manage” from medical professionals. Anyone with alopecia shouldn’t just have to “accept the condition” or “learn to manage the symptoms” – they should be living in the knowledge the appropriate level of research is being undertaken to find a cure.

Alopecia UK is the largest alopecia charity in the UK but, as far as charities go, works off a tiny budget to improve the lives of those affected by alopecia – and does a bloody good job of it! Alopecia UK relies on the support of fundraisers and donors to continue the fantastic work it does.

Given how helpless we felt before becoming engaged with the charity and using their resources to help pick our way through a minefield of topics from: how to handle emotional challenges with children suffering from alopecia, how to approach communication with school, guides to wig buying, and everything in-between; I now want to help where I can, and raise as much cold hard cash as I can for the charity.

This year to raise MONEY and AWARENESS for Alopecia UK, I am taking part in a number of running events, of varying distance:

Date Event Distance Type Time
07/01/2024 North Tyneside 12k Trail 12k Trail 54:23
13/01/2024 Hamsterley Forest 1/2 Marathon Trail 2:03:47
28/01/2024 Druridge Bay Beach Trail 1/2 Marathon Trail 1:44:57
24/03/2024 Pendulum 1/2 Marathon Trail 2:38:54
31/03/2024 North Tyneside 10k 10k Road 41:17
14/04/2024 Manchester Marathon Marathon Road 3:45:37
15/05/2024 Clive Cookson 10k Road 40:37
09/06/2024 Blaydon Race 10k Road 38:38
22/06/2024 Total Warrior 12k Obstacle 1:03:20
06/07/2024 Chevy Chase Marathon Trail 4:24:51
13/07/2024 Northumberlandia Trail 10k Trail 45:58
04/08/2024 South Shields 10 Miler 10miles Road
24/08/2024 Gateshead Trail 10km 10k Trail
08/09/2024 Great North Run 1/2 Marathon Road
14/09/2024 The Lap Ultra Trail
29/09/2024 Robin Hood Half 1/2 Marathon Road
05/10/2024 Kielder Marathon Marathon Trail

I will be joined on the Great North Run by Gary Young (my boss) and Declan Clark (my mate) who are helping raise funds and awareness for Alopecia UK.

Progress will be updated on my Strava profile – Neil Henderson

Now admittedly, I should have got the fundraising element of this up and running before now (I am writing this in June!) but I’ve been focussed on training, so I am getting round to chasing the money now! 

Thank you for supporting me and the fundraising efforts. I really appreciate your support and so does Alopecia UK! 

Please donate to my fundraising page here.