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It’s nothing new to cut your own hair during lockdown, but Gemma Ryan has taken it to extremes, inspired by her very special niece.

The Northern Gas Networks training co-ordinator from Wakefield shaved her head, and streamed the event live on social media, to raise money for Children’s Cancer & Leukaemia Group and Candlighters – a Leeds-based charity supporting children with cancer and their families.

Gemma’s 12-year old niece, Millie, is currently battling Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis (LCH) – a type of cancer that affects around 50 children in the UK each year. Millie has been in and out of hospital since 2017, and began a year-long course of chemotherapy in 2020.

Gemma works for Northern Gas Networks, the region’s gas distributor – and her colleagues have been very generous with their sponsorship contributions, helping to raise more than £2,000.

Gemma said: “The chemo has left Millie with a number of side effects, but she battles through it with more grace and determination than I ever could.

“In the early months it impacted on school and Millie’s energy to do the things she loves. Then a few weeks later the country went into lockdown and Millie started shielding from the outside world, including her extended family.

“In March, Millie was losing her hair and made the decision to cut her waist length hair to her shoulder. In solidarity with Millie I cut most of my hair off too. As Millie started to lose more hair I decided that I wanted to go the extra mile and raise some money by shaving my head completely.

“I was originally hoping to raise around £200, but have reached more than £2000, which is truly amazing.”

Gemma continues to be inspired by Millie, and her love of life.

She said: “Millie loves to bake, is a brilliant majorette and is genuinely one of the kindest people I know. She supports the younger members of her majorette squad in their training, and is great with her little cousins when we all get together. Although I haven’t been able to see Millie in person since March, we keep in touch through text and video calls.”

Donations remain open until July 12 through Gemma’s just giving page:  https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-display/showROFundraiserPage?userUrl=GemmaRyan5&pageUrl=1