Jenaya’s hair-raising fundraiser

It was a case of hair today gone tomorrow for nine-year-old Jenaya McKenzie when she had her long plaits cut off to raise money for John Taylor Hospice.

And the Big Chop proved to be hugely successful as Jenaya of Erdington has so far raised £2,751 for the Birmingham hospice.

A student at Featherstone Primary School, Jenaya wanted to support the hospice whose staff are currently caring for her great aunt Geraldine Dowling of Witton. Geraldine, aged 57, was diagnosed with bowel and secondary cancer and is currently receiving care at the hospice’s In-Patient Unit.

Jenaya also wanted to thank the hospice for caring for her grandmother Eileen McKenzie who was supported in her Erdington home by John Taylor’s community teams before she died in 2017 at the age of 63.

Jenaya with her mum Becci and great aunt Geraldine

More than 20 friends and family joined together to support Jenaya as she went under the scissors at John Taylor Hospice’s Living Well Centre. Second cousin and hairdresser Jade Dowling and Jenaya’s mum Becci McKenzie snipped the plaits to cheers from onlookers.

“Jenaya wanted to do something to say thank you to the hospice after my mom passed away but we just didn’t get round to it then,” said 30-year-old Becci. “But now the hospice is caring for my aunt Geraldine it felt like the perfect time.

“The care that mom received was wonderful so when my aunt became ill we knew straight away that we wanted John Taylor Hospice to care for her.”

Becci says she has been blown away by the support given by friends and family to Jenaya.

“When she said she wanted to do this we set up a Facebook donation page and in just one day she had raised £800! I am so proud of her.”

Jenaya after the big chop

Jenaya, who is donating her hair to the Little Princess Trust, admitted to some nerves before the hair cutting – but received a certificate and medal from the hospice for her fundraising initiative.

“I’ve never had short hair and I am a bit nervous,” she said.

John Taylor Hospice Head of Fundraising Katie Mitchell praised the youngster.

“Raising £2,751 is a totally amazing total – Jenaya should be really proud of herself. We are also grateful to her friends and family for supporting her and donating to the hospice.

“Jenaya and her family have seen at first hand the care we can provide and it’s wonderful that they wanted to give back to ensure that more families can receive that expert care when they need it.”

If you’d like to support the hospice, see our fundraising pages.

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“At such a heartbreaking and difficult time, the nurses and care assistants knew exactly what to do and to say – we’d have been lost without them. The care they provided for my beautiful wife was second to none and I’ll be forever grateful.”

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“The support I get is truly is invaluable and I honestly don’t know where I’d be without them. I’m able to talk openly about my illness and ask for advice and support if I need it. I’ve made some incredible friends and the hospice is a very special place full of laughter and kindness. “

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