UHNM-BASED SALON FRESH HAIR, WIGS AND BEAUTY HANDED £36,000 CHEQUE FROM JEAN BEECH COMMITTEE

A HOSPITAL salon providing wigs for patients who have lost their hair after cancer treatment has received a huge funding boost.

The Fresh Hair, Wigs and Beauty Salon wants to create a state-of-the-art base at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire.

And those ambitious plans took a huge step forward yesterday when the salon was handed a £35,896 cheque.

The cash was presented by the Jean Beech Committee, which was set up following the 55-year-old's death in August, 2012. Members have worked tirelessly to provide crucial funds to help the refurbishment including hosting a race night and charity football match.

Chairman Paul Beech, Jean's 56-year-old husband, of Packmoor, said: "We've gone far and away over what we originally intended as a target, which is absolutely wonderful.

"The response has been excellent and we have to thank everyone in the city for their support.

"Sadly Jean never got the chance to see all this money raised but she was a big supporter of charities and I know she'd be thrilled."

Steve Abene, the committee's events co-ordinator, said he was busy planning more fund-raisers.

The 40-year-old, of Baddeley Green, added: "It's taken a lot of dedication to raise this money, but we're hoping to go onwards and upwards next year. Everybody knows a family member or a friend who has been affected by cancer but the impact of hair loss is one aspect many forget. For a lot of people, especially women, the hair is their crowning glory, and it can really affect their confidence when that's taken away."

The hospital needs around £150,000 to pay for the move into purpose-built accommodation and with the latest cash boost work is expected to start soon.

Breast cancer survivor Fiona Ford, aged 50, of Nantwich, co-founder of the salon which opened at the hospital in 2011, said: "This is the biggest response we've had since we started the salon, it's absolutely brilliant. As a former patient I know how tough it is losing your hair. We wanted to do something to help people feel beautiful even when battling such an awful disease. It's taken on a life of its own and we hope other hospitals nationally start looking into it."

Emma Robertson, deputy manager of UHNM Charity, said: "We are completely overwhelmed by what the Jean Beech Committee has achieved. It is a fantastic testament to how highly thought of Jean was and we are so grateful to all the hard work her family and friends have done to reach this amazing total.

"The build for the new salon is tantalisingly close to starting and it has only been made possible because of the dedication of our supporters."