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Source: MIL-OSI Submissions
Source: Ara Institute of Canterbury

A group of Christchurch Colleges students braved the brisk spring weather to have their luxuriant locks shorn off in order to raise money for Leukemia and Blood Cancer New Zealand on September 17th. The event raised $60, 000 – roughly $20,000 more than the next-highest amount ever raised by the school.

Ara Institute of Canterbury supplied the barbering expertise in the form of 18 Level 4 professional commercial barbering students who accompanied Tutors Anji Glentworth and Paul Skidmore to the College, where students were assembled during their lunch time, ready to part with their hair as a way to raise funds for the charity.

This particular cause is one close to the hearts of a few of the students, and to that of a senior staff member who has a related condition.

Neil Porter, Christ College’s Deputy Principal says: “With the assistance of Joshua Mortenson, we’ve put this together to help the community in the wider sense. We’ve got some boys in our community whose families are very closely affected with leukemia and that’s part of the reason why we chose blood cancer as a cause. This is actually something the school has done in the past – but this year there was a big push from the boys who said that they wanted to get their heads shaved.  

With COVID we didn’t know whether or not we’d be able to get it done, so we’re really pleased that it’s happening now.”

Ben Powell, who had his head expertly ministered to by Ara student Phoenix Churchill, says “We’ve got leukemia in the family. So I figured I better get this done.”

Even students whose families aren’t directly impacted by blood disease were ready and willing to embrace the cause, many taking the opportunity to – briefly due to the school’s strict appearance code – sport a fantastic array of experimental cuts and dye-jobs. The lack of hairdressing expertise was not a concern as the boys knew that their avant-garde looks would be gone in a day or two, and it certainly gave the watching crowd and Ara barbering students an added sense of spectacle.

Mr. Porter recognizes the impressive levels of commitment thus displayed and the results obtained, saying “It’s a great cause to support, so we’re thrilled we’ve raised over $60,000 now, which is just unbelievable.”

Christ’s College Head Boy Dominic Edmund echoes Mr. Porter’s sentiments. “Our goal was to raise $15,000. The previous school record was $40,000 and I was told “you’re never going to get to that!”. And here we are, 60k later with about 70 guys committed to doing it.”

Paul Skidmore, Barbering Tutor at Ara was relegated to pushing a broom around the floor, expediting his student’s speedy shaves by removing the fallen locks of the brave volunteers. Paul notes that this year he’s seen a surge in numbers of students wanting to learn barbering, noting that the current supply of graduates does not keep up with demand from today’s fashion-conscious male clientele.

 “The barbering and hair-dressing courses at Ara are proving extremely popular as we have such a good rapport with industry and people respond to current trends or look to re-train; or even perhaps find a way to work for themselves.  I also personally think that working as a barber is, to a huge degree, being someone that clients can relax with and confide it, so it’s a very rewarding career in that regard.”

None of the boys seemed concerned about any adverse feedback following their adoption of a new number two do. Dominic comments “I said ‘I’m doing it’ to my girlfriend and she actually donated to me last night and got me over the $1500 dollar mark, which was my goal, so I know she’s behind me.”