Overwhelming support as Horsham rallies for Connor

Staff at sainsbury's Horsham sign banner for Connor SUS-150414-105014001

Staff at sainsbury's Horsham sign banner for Connor SUS-150414-105014001

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Reporter James Oxenham joined a group of his friends to have their heads shaved for charity after finding out one of their friends had been diagnosed with cancer.

Connor Ward, 21, was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year and is now about to go through nine weeks of intensive chemotherapy to treat the disease.

. Reporter James Oxenham during shave. SUS-150414-104935001

. Reporter James Oxenham during shave. SUS-150414-104935001

Many find themselves isolated and feeling alone when they go through this battle but as a group, myself and some of Connor’s closest friends decided to show that for him this was never going to be an option.

There is a chance that in his treatment Connor will lose his hair so we decided to join him, and organised a sponsored head shave as a message to say ‘we’re right behind you Connor in every battle you face’, whilst raising money for two very good causes.

So on Sunday April 12 seven of us, including Connor himself, had our luscious locks shaved off by the wonderful people at Kings Barbers in the Bishopric.

Dozens of people turned up to show their support with our collection bucket growing by the minute and even photographer Martin Robertson, who popped down to take a few snaps of us free of charge, got involved having his hair snipped for Connor.

The response we have had has been absolutely overwhelming.

Ben Charman

Some of us, myself included, where unable to lose all of our hair due to personal reasons but we all went as short as we possibly could to show our support and raise as much as we could for charity, whilst also having a pretty good laugh.

The money we’ve raised is set to be split between two different causes. Funds collected on the day will be given to MacMillan Cancer Support who have looked after our friend and will continue to do so throughout his battle. Money raised on the Justgiving page created before the event will be going to Cancer Research UK to help find a cure for this horrible disease.

As a group we would like to thank the staff at Kings Barbers who donated all the money raised from our cuts back into the charity pot.

But they are not the only ones who have shown support for our friend.

Post shave with staff at Kings Barbers SUS-150414-104921001

Post shave with staff at Kings Barbers SUS-150414-104921001

As well as the head shave we clubbed together to create a banner with the tag line ‘I’m supporting Connor’.

The aim was to get a few of his friends and family to sign the banner so he had something to take with him to treatments and lift his spirits when the going gets tough.

However, the response has been overwhelming and as word got out people from all over the town decided they wanted to get involved and show their support.

Staff from business such as Sainsbury’s, Horsham Superbowl, The Dead Parrot and many more queued to sign the banner and comedian John O’Sullivan and artist Frank Turner have also shown their support with personal messages.

Ben Charman, James O'Connor and Connor Ward post shave SUS-150414-104744001

Ben Charman, James O'Connor and Connor Ward post shave SUS-150414-104744001

But perhaps the biggest surprise of all was the response from the general public with dozens of strangers signing the banner and donating to our fundraising page, which broke the £1,000 mark in just under two days.

Ben Charman and Andrew Naylor are two of Connor’s closest friends who have been supporting him since day one.

Ben said: “The response we have had has been absolutely overwhelming. Our target was originally £500, but we have nearly raised that plus £1,000! “It has been incredible and the response we have had has really helped Connor get through this awful situation.”

Andrew added: “We didn’t envisage that half as many people would be donating and offering their help.

“People have been amazingly kind and we cannot thank them enough as although it may not be a lot of effort for them, it meant the world to Connor, and that’s what this is about after all.”

But the whole process has not been set up for people to say ‘what a wonderful thing you have all done’.

The message from the head shave and the dozens of signatures on the banner is to show Connor he is not alone and we will all be supporting him throughout this fight, whilst also trying to raise money for a fantastic cause.

To donate and support Connor visit https://www.justgiving.com/Ben-Charman