He’s our hairo

Ryan Tan is about to get the chop from Kelly Chinnery, with some support from his wife Sharon Teoh and Lions club president Phil Chinnery. Photo by Steve Grant.

Blokes urged to go long

DO an online image search for hair donation and you’ll scroll through pages and pages of girls and young women chopping their locks for a good cause.

But male faces are few and far between, which left Bull Creek dad Ryan Tan scratching his enviable head of hair.

“You see a lot of children and young women doing it, so I started thinking ‘why shouldn’t I start doing it’,” Mr Tan said.

When a schoolfriend of his daughter donated her hair in honour of two family members who’d died of cancer, it was the spur he needed and last Saturday Mr Tan had a hairdressing friend lop off the required 35cm of ponytail to send off to children’s charity Variety, who forward it to wig makers in New Zealand.

It takes between 10 and 20 ponytails to make a single wig, and it costs around $4000 to get something a bit more stylish than Elton John’s infamous “squirrel” do, so donations are critical for keeping them in reach of the thousands of people around the country who lose their hair through cancer treatment, alopecia or other illnesses. Despite the lopsided donations, there’s no difference between male and female hair and they all go into the same wigs.

Mr Tan hopes his kindhearted gesture will prompt other men to get on the hair donation bandwagon.

As American hair donor and blogger Alec McKee discovered, it can be tough for blokes to break the shoulder-length mold.

“There were naysayers. My friends, my family, and people I didn’t even know all seemed to have something to say about my hair,” Mr McKee wrote about his longhair journey.

“Having people say you need a haircut gets discouraging, even for the strongest and most committed to the flow.”

But he found that telling people he was donating it to help cancer survivors helped turned his most ardent critics into adoring fans.

Back in Bull Creek, Mr Tan timed his cut to coincide with Movember and has been raising money for the Lions Cancer Institute’s Karen and Joshua Chinnery Memorial Scholarship.

It was set up in memory of the late wife and son of Armadale/Kelmscott Lions Club president Phil Chinnery. Both died from brain tumours in the ‘90s.

Mr Chinnery said the scholarship supports PhD students studying cancer; so far 10 have completed their three-year courses.

Mr Chinnery’s granddaughter was the school chum whose donation of her thick copper hair sparked Mr Keoh’s philanthropic haircut, and appropriately it was her mum Kelly Chinnery who gave his long, black ponytail the chop on the weekend.

To support Mr Tan’s big chop, head to http://www.givenow.com.au/crowdraiser/public/ryantansbigchop

by STEVE GRANT

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