29 April 2024

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Gabby’s Story

Gabby with her new look

How Gabby changed her look to both honour her loved ones and support St Christopher's

To honour the memory of her grandmother and to give back to those who had supported her family, Gabby did something incredible to fundraise for St Christopher’s, braving a new look and the cold winter weather.

Gabby had a close relationship with her grandparents, Sheila and George, who were married for 61 years. Growing up in South London, Gabby was raised by her grandmother, and the happy memories of that time still live with her.

“She would always say after we finished a meal and she was full from her food: ‘Lord be praised, my belly is raised without the help of a man!’” Gabby fondly remembers.

When Sheila became terminally ill in October, it was very tough for the whole family. George took on responsibility for caring for Sheila, who had also been living with dementia, but it was difficult for him, even with the support offered to him by loved ones.

That’s where St Christopher’s was able to help, as Gabby said:

“We were referred to St Christopher’s for my grandma’s end-of-life care, and the very same day they organised a night nurse and other care to relieve my granddad.

“I think we’d really like to thank St Christopher’s for the emotional support – you stuck with my granddad. Before the referral, he had found some other doctors and paramedics to be rude to him.”

Sheila died in November, and so Gabby pondered on what she could do to give back for the support her family had been given during the final part of her grandmother’s life.

“I didn’t know where to start at first,” she said, but then the answer came to her: she decided to shave her head to raise money.

Setting a fundraiser target of £500 to go between St Christopher’s and Marie Curie, who had also helped with Sheila’s illness along the way, Gabby reached out online to her friends and family for sponsorship.

The big shave took place on 12 January, which Gabby herself admitted was brave purely because of how cold it was. Making sure that nothing went to waste, she also donated her hair to the Little Princess Trust, which makes wigs for children with cancer.

By the time all was said and done, Gabby had raised a grand total of over £1,200 – more than double the target she had set – an incredible amount for an incredible act of generosity.

Would Gabby recommend a big shave to others?

“Absolutely – it’s so much easier!” she said. “My hair was so long and curly before; now it’s so much easier to maintain! I now try to keep challenging myself every day, and to not be afraid. I’ve been writing down every day that even if something scares you, it’s still worth doing.”

Gabby is currently travelling the world and has been working on a dragon fruit farm in Mexico, with an aim of returning to youth work when she eventually returns home. We wish her all the best in her endeavours.

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