Two top barber and hairdressing trainers who have both been affected by retinoblastoma have joined forces to help raise awareness of the little known condition.
Mike Taylor’s daughter Alice was diagnosed in May last year, when she was just two years old, and nearly a year on she is still having chemotherapy treatment. Alice had seemed perfectly happy and well, and the only sign that anything might be wrong was a squint, so the diagnosis came as a complete shock to Mike and his wife Emily.
Given that retinoblastoma is so rare Mike, who runs barber training academy Mike Taylor Education, was stunned to discover that his old friend Alison Brightwell, who teaches hairdressing and barbering at East Durham College, had also had the condition. Alison was diagnosed when she was just six weeks old and had to have her eye removed four weeks later to stop the cancer spreading and save her life.
Alison needed regular check ups throughout her childhood and now wears an artificial eye but she has never let this stop her doing anything. Earlier this year, the inspirational mum of two won the Times Educational Supplement further education teacher of the year award.
The pair have now got together to host two charity stands – one for barbers and one for hairdressers – at the trade show Barber UK next month to raise money for the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust.
Mike, from Poole in Dorset, said: “This has been such a challenging time for our family but we have found solace through CHECT and the great work they do. A lot of friends wanted to do something to help us and we thought that generating funds for this small charity and raising vital awareness of retinoblastoma would be a great way for them to get involved.”
Around 30,000 hair professionals across the UK will gather for Barber UK, at the Birmingham NEC on 20 and 21 May 2018. On both charity stands, demonstrations by inspirational hairdressing talent will take place, interweaved with prize draws and raffles.
There is £6,000 worth of prizes to be won, including a Takara Belmont Chair, FAB hair products, American Crew products, a Denman hamper and 100 subscriptions to Modern Barber Magazine. There will also be an auction of signed football memorabilia.
Patrick Tonks, Chief Executive of the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust, said: “We are extremely grateful to Mike, Alison and all their friends and colleagues for their incredible support in helping to raise funds and awareness of retinoblastoma at Barber UK. I’m looking forward to attending what sounds like a fantastic event – we hope that everyone has a great time.”
For more information about the charity stands or to buy tickets for the prize draw for only £10 each, call 01332 227698. Find out more about Barber UK at barberukshow.com