SPECIAL things can happen to ordinary people, as a Chichester orthodontist discovered while raising money for charity.
Ritu Gupta, who owns Chichester Orthodontic Clinic, in Westgate, had her head shaved in front of staff and customers to support Chestnut Tree House children’s hospice.
She wanted to raise £6,850, enough to pay for a day’s care at the Arundel hospice, but a surprise donation meant more than twice that was collected.
Ritu explained: “The day was surreal but we were confident because we had raised 106 per cent of our target and optimistic that my bald head would raise more.
“Then, practice manager Kinga Oliveira de Assis came running into my surgery with news of an enormous online donation from a mysterious source which she had spotted in a routine inspection of our donation page.
“With this donation, our meagre 106 per cent was virtually doubled to 192 per cent, a staggering £13,000 for Chestnut Tree Hospice.”
The final total raised looks to be around £14,000.
Mother-of-two Ritu, 45, said she had a real fear of how she may be judged when her hair was shaved off.
“However, I am lucky enough to choose my fate and face my demons,” she added.
“Some people simply don’t have that choice. They bravely face the uncertainty of life or probable death because of life-limiting illnesses.
“I reflect on my mother’s battle with late stage cancer and debilitating chemotherapy. She lost her hair but found an inner peace to help her cope in her last few months.
“We were lucky enough to fall into the gentle hands of St Wilfrid’s Hospice and she died peacefully four years ago, thanks to the kindness of strangers who fund the hospices. Her loss left me exhausted and questioning the meaning of my life and how I will face death.”
Ritu said focusing on positive things, like getting her business back on track after nine months of neglect, helped.
“Since I zoned out of negative news and views, I noticed that people around me were interesting and amazing,” she added.
“I heard about inspirational people and businesses who do exceptional things to fundraise for their chosen cause.”
She decided she wanted to be one of them, rather than live her life in fear or with regret.
Two days before the big day, she broke out in a panic night-sweat. The day before, her ego was so worried no-one would show up to support her, she did not even buy any food and drink for the party.
But the end result was amazing, boosted by the mysterious donation.
Ritu said: “My questions and fears are still there but I now believe in angels. My brave head shave has been an incredible personal journey of fear and optimism. I have received kind words from beautiful people and generous donations from angels.”
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