Cookstown woman gets her head shaved for cancer charity Charis

Kate gets her hair chopped off
Kate gets her hair chopped off

A Cookstown woman has taken the plunge…and shaved off all her hair in aid of charity!

Marks & Spencer Sales Advisor Kate Smith was cheered on by the crowd on Saturday at Dunleath Bar in Cookstown to launch a year-long partnership between M&S Cookstown and Charis Integrated Cancer Care.

Kate with the shorn locks

Kate with the shorn locks

Charis was announced as the retailer’s official ‘Charity of the Year’ – after a personal experience which has touched all the staff at the Simply Food store. Colleagues at the M&S store at Orritor Road Retail Park were shocked when fellow Sales Advisor Pauline McElhone’s husband was diagnosed with prostate cancer last Christmas.

It was then that the family turned to Charis for support.

Pauline said: “When my husband was diagnosed, it was a living nightmare – a very difficult time, a frightening time. We’d received literature from the hospital, which of course was important, but Charis was able to guide us and offer practical help and guidance, which made it just that bit easier. I didn’t have to be strong or put on a front, as Charis knew exactly what support was needed.”

Charis works in conjunction with clinical treatments for cancer. It is a self-funded charity which supports cancer patients and families through their journey by providing body therapies such as massage, aromatherapy and reflexology, counselling, advice on benefit entitlements and nutritional advice.

Pauline continued: “Charis is a place of calmness and peace. With every visit I feel my anxieties and fears get lighter and lighter. I have such a positive outlook for the future and this is partly down to the people and volunteers at Charis. It is the most special place. I am very grateful to have this facility on my door step to support myself and my husband.”

The M&S store will be holding numerous fundraising activities, including the head shave, throughout the year as well as volunteering time to support the charity.

Kate Smith said: “I had wanted to shave my head for years for the charity but the timing was never right, until now.

“Charis receive no government funding and rely solely on fundraising. Everyone is saying how brave I am but the patients going through various cancer treatments are the brave ones in my eyes.” For more information on the year-long partnership, please call 028 8676 2833 or visit