Stevenage man’s hairathon to mark daughter’s battle with meningitis

Gavin Kelso with his wife Claire, and daughters Iona, 11, and Hazel, 7, before getting his hair and

Gavin Kelso with his wife Claire, and daughters Iona, 11, and Hazel, 7, before getting his hair and beard shaved off - Credit: Archant

THE father of a girl who was critically ill in hospital with meningitis a decade ago has completed a 10-week ‘hairathon’ to mark the anniversary.

Gavin Kelso and his family after having his hair and beard shaved off at Clubman of London barbers a

Gavin Kelso and his family after having his hair and beard shaved off at Clubman of London barbers at Stevenage Indoor Marketl - Credit: Archant

Gavin Kelso began growing his hair and a beard in February and has now had it all shaved off, almost 10 years to the day since his daughter Iona was taken to hospital with pneumococcal meningitis – a life-threatening disease which affects brain function.

Iona, who was an 18-month-old baby at the time, spent seven days on a life support machine and had a number of seizures.

Despite some hearing difficulties, Iona, now 11, has been able to recover from the ordeal to live a normal life.

“It’s still very fresh from when she was in hospital,” said Gavin, who lives with his wife Claire, Iona and seven-year-old daughter Hazel in Derby Way, Stevenage.


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“Iona was 19 months old when we got her home and she was like a newborn baby – she couldn’t move her head unaided and had to learn to eat and drink again. It was difficult coming to terms with what happened. You have all these great plans for their future and then suddenly everything changes.”

A decade on, Gavin has had his first haircut for 10 weeks to raise funds for the Meningitis Trust, although the 37-year-old admitted it was the beard he was most pleased to be rid of.

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Clubman of London barbers at Stevenage Indoor Market did the honours last Saturday, May 4, having given Gavin a cut throat shave 10 weeks earlier.

Gavin, who works as a car mechanic, added: “Meningitis affects everybody differently but for many it can be life-changing. I decided to do the hairathon to raise awareness of what the Meningitis Trust can do for families affected, as they have a whole host of support facilities.

“Most of all we’re incredibly proud of what Iona’s achieved. She has shown so much strength and has so much determination.”

To make a donation to the cause visit www.justgiving.com/Gavin-Kelso1

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