My old school Gordonstoun have been incredibly supportive of my fundraising endeavours for Autoimmune Alopecia Research UK, with the pupils arranging an Own Clothes Day in November which raised £390.
They recently contacted me again inviting me to a Christmas Carol Service for ex-pupils in Covent Garden, London, and told me that they had arranged for the proceeds of the evening to be split between my Wig Free Week for AAR-UK and two other alumni charities. I was absolutely delighted as I am now trying to reach £10,000 and all help is gratefully received!
The even more exciting news was that Princess Anne would be attending the service, as she is former Governor of the school, and they had asked me to meet her! I decided to go wig-free on the day because I thought it would have more of an impact when I was telling her about my fundraising for alopecia research.
I was quite nervous beforehand, as it was the first time I had gone for a full day without my wig since Wig Free Week and also because I would be seeing people who I had gone to school with, some of whom did not know that I had alopecia. But when I arrived and got chatting to people it was so much easier than I thought it would be, and everybody was really kind and made me feel very comfortable!
We met Princess Anne after the service was over and we were split into small groups so that she had the chance to speak to people individually. I wasn’t sure whether to curtsy or not but she immediately put us at ease by going in for a handshake and seemed very down-to-earth and friendly.
When it came to my turn I introduced myself and explained that I had developed alopecia just after leaving school and why I had decided to raise money for AAR-UK. I told her about my Wig Free Week and how much I had raised so far, and she seemed very impressed and said well done. We then all chatted in a group for a while before she had to head on to the next group, but before she left she said good luck to me again! I was very impressed by how nice she was and how she made time for everyone – it was a real to honour to meet her.
The school had provided some drinks and nibbles after the service so that everyone had the chance to chat. It was great to see friends who I hadn’t seen for weeks, months and even years! There were quite a few people there who had supported my fundraising campaign but who I hadn’t seen in person so it was lovely to have the opportunity to say thank you properly.
I was particularly pleased to see my friend Nataly, who is one of my closest friends but has been living in San Francisco so wasn’t able to be around for Wig Free Week. She was one of the first people that I told about my alopecia and has always been incredibly positive and supportive, with an amazing ability to put a smile on my face when I’m feeling down!
Even though she hasn’t been here in person to support me with my latest venture, she has been a huge support to me from afar, following all my activities on social media, creating genius wig-free hashtags (#nowiggynobiggie) and making a very generous donation to my campaign. I feel very lucky to have such amazing friends who make having alopecia so much easier 🙂