If you were to describe Claire Jurd in one word it would be selfless. The determined 11-year-old from Cessnock recently shaved her long golden hair to raise money for cancer sufferers being treated at the Mater Hospital in NSW.
When she first announced her intentions, her mother, Emma Goldie, couldn’t have been more shocked.
“I was gobsmacked,” said Emma.
“Claire’s daily routine is to worry about how her hair is going to be. And when she came to me and said, ‘I want to shave it off’, I was like ‘No you’re not, you’re not doing that.’”
Her mother’s refusal didn’t deter Claire, who insisted that she wanted to sacrifice her hair to raise money for people with cancer.
But this decision wasn’t only a good deed; it was deeply personal for Claire. She had recently lost her great aunt to breast cancer and the loss had impacted her in such a way that she became determined to make a difference.
Her great aunt, Kate, was 54 years old when she lost her nine-year battle with cancer last June. She left behind her devoted husband Ron, and her three boys, Daniel, Alex and Jye.
“Her life revolved around her three boys,” says Emma.
“Our family are all very close and we all supported Kate.”
Claire was incredibly close to her late great aunt. Kate used to spend three days a week with Claire while her mother was at work, and during that time they formed a special bond. Over the course of Kate’s cancer battle, Claire would join her on trips to the Mater Hospital for her radiation treatment. Even up to the last 24 hours of Kate’s life, Claire was by her side.
“We allowed Claire to go through the whole journey with her. Some people might think that’s not real good to have a 10-year-old, at that time, seeing it all. But Claire was pretty close to her and I didn’t want her to only hear from me that her aunty had passed away without having a chance to say goodbye,” says Emma.
While Emma was initially against Claire’s idea, she eventually came to an agreement with her.
“In the end I told Claire that she could do it, but I wanted to see how she was going to do it. And that’s when she came to me with her plan on a bit of paper explaining where she wanted to do it, how, and why. It was absolutely amazing,” says Emma, who is clearly very proud of her generous daughter.
“I think this is a way for Claire to cope with losing Kate and part of the grieving process.”
Once she understood how important this was to Claire, Emma got in contact with her local radio station’s morning show, David and Tanya on KOFM. They were on board with Claire’s cause straight away and keen to get her in to the studio on Friday to undertake the shave live on air.
When Friday rolled around, the only one who wasn’t nervous was Claire.
“She wasn’t nervous at all. She was up at four o’clock that morning and she was absolutely jumping out of her skin. The radio came and picked us up in their road runner car and took us to the studio. She was that excited, everyone else was so nervous, my stomach was turning, the hairdresser was even nervous.”
It’s been one week since Claire shaved off her golden locks but she couldn’t be happier with her new look.
“She loves it!” says Emma, “And she just looks so cute.”
Her hair isn’t going to waste either, with plans to donate it this week to Beautiful Lengths, a local business that makes wigs for people with cancer.
Emma is overwhelmed by the amount of support that Claire has received.
“The radio station dropped us off at Claire’s school [after the program]. And the whole school, I think there were about 350 students, had formed a guard of honour for her. I walked with Claire through the whole guard of honour and they were cheering and clapping,” says Emma.
“Even her little kindergarten buddy brought her in a bunch of flowers and chocolates for what she’s done.”
And the support hasn’t stopped there. People Claire has never met have been moved to send her letters of support and encouragement.
“An email was set out to 1200 Mater employees and we have had hundreds and hundreds of emails coming back giving Claire words of support. These are people we don’t even know but they know Claire and she has a big job ahead of her during the school holidays to reply to them all.”
Claire was particularly concerned with where the money she raised would be going. Not wanting it to go to waste, she chose the Mater’s oncology unit, which not only provides radiation and chemotherapy treatment to people in Cessnock but the wider Hunter area too. The money raised will be going towards buying items of comfort the unit would otherwise be unable to afford, including blanket warmers, thicker mattresses and some recliners. It is items like these that make a terrible time in a person’s life a little more bearable.
While Emma is touched by the outpouring of support, she urges people to make a contribution by donating to the Mater.
“Please go the extra step and donate something for what Claire has done,” she asks.
Claire is hoping to raise $5000 for the Mater’s oncology unit, they are currently at $1233.20. If you would like to donate you can phone the Mater cashiers office direct on (02) 4014 4699 between 8am to 4:30pm. You can make a donation over the phone by credit card, in person by cash, or by direct deposit.