Derry girl, 11, donates hair for cancer sufferers
You don't usually get an audience for your first haircut – never mind a film crew.
But that's what happened as an 11-year-old girl took the kindest cut of all as she sacrificed her waist-length mane to make wigs for cancer sufferers.
Ciara Harkin decided to have the chop after witnessing another little girl lose her hair during chemotherapy.
The youngster's decision to donate her beloved 14-inch locks has been described as courageous and generous beyond belief.
Not only has she sacrificed her own hair, she has also raised thousands of pounds in sponsorship which will go towards providing wigs for at least eight more child cancer sufferers.
There was a real buzz at The Salon in Londonderry yesterday as senior stylist Brenda Holden stood with scissors poised to begin a very special job.
Apart from a trim to keep her hair in good condition, Ciara had never had her hair cut in her life.
The salon at the Quay in Derry was packed as Ciara's parents, brother and friends along with a host of photographers and a television crew gathered to witness the momentous occasion.
Ciara and stylist Brenda had a long discussion about what the end result would be, and had agreed on a trendy concave bob.
After measuring and securing Ciara's hair, it was time for Brenda's scissors to connect with the precious tresses. The little girl gave a huge sigh but remained calm – her mum Joan was slightly more emotional and her eyes filled with tears. She said: "I am just so, so proud of her.
"Ciara made up her mind to donate her hair almost two months ago but she hasn't stopped there. She set up a website to collect sponsorship but this has already soared above her target," she added.
"She set a target of £350, the cost of making a wig, but that has rocketed to over £3,000 and we will keep the page open for another week."
Brenda spent over an hour cutting and styling Ciara's hair.
Admitting to a few nerves, Brenda said: "Making sure I got the measurements right and secured at least 12 inches needed for a wig was the nerve-racking part – that's what this is all about and that brought pressure."
Everyone watching agreed the end result was a job well done and Ciara looked stunning, but the crowd waited with bated breath for the only opinion that really mattered.
Then, with a big grin on her face, Ciara exclaimed: "I love it!"