Thanks for taking the time to read my fundraising story for Alopecia UK.

Growing up I had a full head of hair until aged 18 when patches started falling out. Not at all welcome just as you’re becoming a young adult, venturing into the world single and ready to mingle! Over the following 10 years my hair would randomly re-grow only to fall out again, raising and dashing hopes time and again. Progressively it got worse until in my late twenties my body gave up and all my hair disappeared. To this day I have Alopecia Universalis (no hair at all on my body).

It’s only hair” some people say. Hair does serve an important physical role – this becomes apparent when you lose your eyebrows and eyelashes and suddenly your eyes are super-sensitive, or your lack of nasal hair means your nose drips all the time – but the sudden and significant change in appearance cannot fail to have an impact on your self-esteem, no matter how assured and self-confident you may seem on the outside. It is a sad fact of life that we all judge people to some degree by their appearance – it’s a human trait that will never fully change. It is a huge adjustment when we suddenly look very different. Nothing can prepare you for looking in the mirror and not really recognising the face staring back at you (don't underestimate the importance of eyebrows and eyelashes for providing expression and framing features). Losing your hair can leave you feeling like you have lost yourself. 

Despite being surrounded by loving family and friends I struggled for years to come to terms with my condition. I tried various treatments, some of which were very uncomfortable and inconvenient, but the reality is there is currently no effective cure.

I was fortunate that some years ago I found Alopecia UK and with their help and support I have learnt to live a happy life with the disease. Determined to turn something negative into a positive I joined the charity’s trustee board in 2016 to support others and try to impact the long-term research and development needed to produce more effective treatments. During my time at the charity, we founded a committee of expert scientists and medical professionals who volunteer their time every year to assess new research proposals which the charity then directly funds. I have witnessed the ultimate tragedy alopecia can cause – having met a patient who ultimately took their own life – but also seen the hope and joy experienced by people finding peer support through the charity’s regular events. It is for this reason I want to continue my support for the charity – raising awareness, supporting patients and funding research.

This April, I am lucky enough to be realising a long-held ambition to run the London marathon and am hoping to raise as much as I can for Alopecia UK. Anything you can give, large or small, will make a huge difference to the lives of those with Alopecia.

Harry Brunt