Historic breakthrough as girl’s donated afro hair is made into a wig

A charity that told an 11-year-old girl that her afro hair was “unsuitable” for wig donations says it will now accept her textured curly locks

Schoolgirl Carly Gorton offered to donate her hair to help children affected by cancer treatment

Carly Gorton, 11, from Southburgh, Norfolk first came to the attention of the press when the Eastern Daily Press ran the story that she was turned down by a charity when she went to donate her afro hair to help make wigs for children who had lost their own due to cancer treatment or other health issues.

Carly, who was 10-years-old at the time, hoped to shave off her long hair and send it to the Little Princess Trust to help a British girl. But she was told her hair type was too delicate and therefore unsuitable for “technical reasons.”

The Little Princess Trust, which provide real hair wigs to children who have lost their hair due to cancer treatment, said: “Unfortunately, the techniques and instruments used mean that the hair is more prone to breaking due to the different structure of the hair.”

Chief executive Phil Brace said the charity had been trying for many years to find a manufacturer that could use afro hair for wigs and reached out to specialist wig manufacturers who could use afro hair to make wigs.

The Little Princess Trust provide afro hair wigs but the curls and texturing are added after the wig is made, using predominantly straight hair.

Carly’s mum Anna Mudeka hoped someone would come forward as her daughter was determined to make a difference to a child living with hair loss in the UK.

“Of course there are charities in America, but there is something unique about donating to your country,” said Ms Mudeka.

She said she was also concerned about the longer-term impact of this experience on her daughter.

“It starts creating divisions. I don’t want Carly to be asking ‘am I good enough?’ or having doubts about herself as she starts growing up,” she said.

After linking with a specialist wig company and research and a trial, the charity found that afro wigs were now possible to make.

Carly was then given the green light to cut her and did so at a special school assembly and her hair was at last donated for use in the charity’s first real afro wigs that will be used by other children.

The Little Princess Trust’s chief executive Phil Brace said Carly’s “determination” to donate her hair had pushed them to find a way forward. And that, “Carly and her mother’s campaign had created a “fundamental change in wig manufacturing.”

The charity worked with the 120-year-old London company Raoul to develop a wefting method to weave and tie the donated locks. Afro wigs, as with any used by the charity, are comprised of hair donations from more than one person.

“It’s really beautiful,” said Carly, of one of the new creations.

Making afro hair wigs at wig manufacturer Raoul London

One of the wigs made from donated afro hair

Phil Brace continued, “We are so grateful to all those who have worked on the project and have created a fundamental change in wig manufacturing that allows us now to be truly inclusive.”

Carly’s mother, Anna Mudeka, said: “History has been made and we are so proud of Carly.

“Through her sheer determination and everyone pulling together to hear her voice, children of black and mixed heritage can now donate their hair to the Little Princess Trust.”

Ms Mudeka, added that children needing wigs through illness could now receive a wig “true to their heritage”.

Hair discrimination has to stop…

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