Havant man to grow all of his hair for six months before 24-hour relay for cancer research

HE is always clean-shaven and chooses not to grow out the hair on his head – but he won’t look so groomed once he has finished raising funds for a cancer charity.

In a bid to gather money for lifesaving research John Parker, from Havant, will not shave or have his hair cut until Cancer Research UK’s 24-hour Relay For Life Portsmouth in July.

John Parker with his wife, Katy Parker, at their home in Havant. Both will be doing something brave for Cancer Research UK. Picture: Habibur Rahman

John Parker with his wife, Katy Parker, at their home in Havant. Both will be doing something brave for Cancer Research UK. Picture: Habibur Rahman

The national challenge sees one person from each team of eight or more participants take it in turns to walk or run around a track for 24-hours straight.

John, 46, has done the relay for the past two years and this year, wanted to do something different to ensure people sponsor him for the event at Mountbatten Leisure Centre.

He said: ‘I haven’t grown my hair since 2002 and I’m always clean shaven.

‘I’m going to look a bit strange because the hair on my head is going to grow out awkwardly where I’m receding, and it will be grey!

John and Katy will both be doing the Relay For Life Portsmouth. Picture: Habibur Rahman

John and Katy will both be doing the Relay For Life Portsmouth. Picture: Habibur Rahman

‘It will be itchy and irritating but the point is the irritation I will face or the strange looks I might get is nothing compared to what someone with cancer has to go through.

‘My mother-in-law has pancreatic cancer, my sister-in-law has had breast cancer and my friend is in remission after having cancer for the fifth time – until you see the effects it has on people you don’t realise how bad it is.

‘That’s why I and my wife Katy want to help. She will be taking part in the relay with me and will have her hair shaved off with me near to the end.’

Last year Portsmouth fundraisers gathered a whopping £95,100 of the £2.1m that was raised for lifesaving cancer research at 45 relay events across the country.

The event will take place from 12pm on July 13 to 12pm on July 14.

It is opened by cancer survivors who walk the opening lap cheered and then teams take it in turn to relay.

John, a signalman for Network Rail, added: ‘Taking part is an emotional rollercoaster – there’s ups and downs and happiness and sadness when mourning people you've lost.

‘But its just 24 hours, and for people with cancer, their disease never sleeps.’

At 10pm the poignant Candle of Hope ceremony takes place where participants take time to remember loved ones lost to cancer.

Jayne Bowater, volunteer event chairperson for Relay For Life Portsmouth, said: ‘John contacted me after the last relay and said he felt deflated and wanted to continue fundraising.

‘He came back to me with an idea that I think is fabulous and I said I would support him in any way I could. It’s always great to see people coming forward with new fundraising ideas.’

Click here to donate to John’s fundraising efforts or call 0300 123 1026.