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Community champion David Axtell has gone under the razor to raise funds for a local cathedral and a children’s cancer charity.
The father-of-two also hopes that his shiny dome will raise awareness about alopecia, a hair loss condition which his wife Sara has.
David said: “St Christopher’s Cathedral has been unable to hold services for a couple of months. This current situation is simply unsustainable. This is one way for me to highlight the current severe financial challenges that it is facing.”
David, who is the president of Bingham Cricket Club in the UK, joined the ‘Brave the Shave’ initiative in support of his friend Tommy Lloyd, a cancer survivor, and to collect donations for CLIC Sargent, a UK charity that helps children with cancer and leukaemia.
He raised funds for CLIC 20 years ago when he completed a week-long bike ride to assist a friend whose son had been diagnosed with leukaemia. Tommy’s endeavours inspired him to stage the sponsored head shave and offer support once again.
David, who moved to the kingdom in 1995 is a former international health insurance executive and now business consultant, is well known for his work with local charities.
He organised the Wheelathon charity spectacular for more than a decade. It involved cycling, skateboarding and being pushed on hospital trolleys for good causes around the F1 track at the Bahrain International Circuit.
Going bald has allowed him to draw attention to his wife Sara’s alopecia. David said: “With my bright white dome, hopefully for the first few weeks I can draw some of the attention away from Sara!
“She does put a brave face on it most of the time, although, there are times when the hurt is plain to see. I have seen the various stages that Sara went through and the treatment she endured, ultimately unsuccessfully.”
Sara first noticed a small bald patch had developed on her scalp around 2006. Gradually, more patches appeared. She said: “I did some research and discovered that there is no definitive cause of this auto-immune condition, although stress, trauma and hormone change have been linked to its occurrence.
“Despite there being a number of recommended treatments, ranging from topical lotions to steroid injections and narrowband UVB therapy, which itself carries an increased risk of skin cancer; none of these carry a particularly high success rate.”
She started wearing wigs and a cap. “As time went on, it felt that when I wore a hat or wig, I was pretending to be someone I wasn’t. I learned to embrace it and, following a few therapy sessions to help me deal with the looks and stares, I haven’t looked back!
“David has always reassured me that he thinks I’m beautiful and my children have never been embarrassed by my baldness. They have all been so supportive and caring, as have all our friends.”
Sara has alopecia universalis, the loss of hair on the scalp and body from which only 10 per cent of sufferers recover fully. “Losing my eyebrows and eyelashes was nearly as traumatic as losing my head of hair,” explained Sara. “But despite having some low points along the journey, I always try to remind myself how lucky I am.
“It would be great to be able to set up a support group in Bahrain for alopecia sufferers.”
David hopes Sara will inspire others as she did him. He said: “There are a few very kind strangers and a number of friends who take the time to compliment Sara on her looks and they cannot know the positive effect that this has. However, the vast majority of the time there are people staring and pointing, while some laugh. All of this is extremely hurtful which is more long lasting and felt more deeply.
“I am hoping that, by seeing me bald, she will at least accept that she does look good!”
He set up a crowd-funding page on JustGiving.com and raised more than BD1,000 for his good causes. For more details email email@example.com.