STUDENTS screamed with delight as a school teacher had her head shaved for charity after they challenged her to undergo the radical makeover if they raised £1,000.
Head of languages Ruth Owen had asked the youngsters for fundraising ideas for Oakhaven Hospice in memory of former colleague Tara Saunders who worked in pastoral care and safeguarding at Priestlands in Lymington for 14 years.
The 44-year-old mum-of-two died last year of cervical cancer.
Mrs Owen was shocked when the Year 9 pupils suggested she shave off her if they managed to collect £1,000.
The brave teacher agreed and on Monday she sat on a stage in the school gymnasium, wearing a T-shirt with a photo of Tara on it, in front of around 100 excited pupils while hairdresser Adam Hughes did the deed.
Speaking before she underwent the clippers, Mrs Owen (54) said: “The kids have raised £2,500 so there is no way I am backing out.
“I knew Tara well and she was absolutely brilliant. She helped a lot of my pupils, and she was just amazing with them.
“I am a bit worried what I will look like afterwards, but it will soon grow back, and I’ve got lots of warm hats to wear.”
Mrs Owen said she agreed to the head shaving having lost her own mother from cancer at the age of 17: “The subject is very close to my heart. She died when she was only 45.”
Her husband Roger and daughter Harriet were both at the school to see her given the extreme haircut.
Harriet admitted: “I am a bit worried what she is going to look like.”
Also present were Tara’s parents Barry and Sue Frampton, from Lymington, along with her daughter Chloe.
Barry said: “It’s absolutely fantastic, a great thing to offer to do, and the amount of money the kids have raised for her to do it is phenomenal.”
Deputy head Richard Glenny also joined in the fun by taking over the clippers to help shave his colleague’s head.
He praised Mrs Owen’s bravery, saying: “It is a wonderful thing to do and the kids are going to thoroughly enjoy it.”
The pupils certainly did, screaming, laughing and cheering as first Adam, from Jason Jones hairdressers in Lymington, parted Mrs Owen’s hair, cut it, and then shaved it off completely.
They gave Mrs Owen a huge round of applause as she held up two huge bunches of hair and rubbed her now-bald head.
She donated the hair to the Little Princess charity which makes wigs for youngsters suffering from alopecia or cancer.
Speaking afterwards, Mrs Owen said: “Oh wow that was an experience. I actually don’t think it looks too bad. I’ve been told it grows back quite quickly and I’m looking forward to trying out different hairstyles while it is.”
Watching the procedure were Jill West and Jo Cayla who work for Oakhaven’s community fundraising team.
Jill said: “In all my years of working for Oakhaven this is the first time I have actually been invited to a head shaving, so I am very excited.
“What Mrs Owen and the school have done is just so amazing. We are so thankful to them.”
The school has pledged to raise £10,000 over the year in memory of Tara and Mr Glenny revealed on Monday they have already reached £6,000 in just a matter of weeks.
He said: “Tara was extremely popular as I think this shows. We are thrilled by the amount we have raised so far, we have a board showing the target but I think we are going to have to make another one with a bigger target as we have nearly reached the original one already.”
As the A&T reported last year, after Tara was diagnosed with cervical cancer she set up a Facebook page entitled Tara’s Take Time to Test on which she urged other women to undergo regular tests.
She wrote: “I can’t help thinking If I had made time to go for my smears then perhaps I wouldn’t be in Ethis situation. If I had taken the time to test. It could be the most important five minutes you spend.”
Her message reached women as far away as Canada, the US and Australia.
To donate to Oakhaven visit www.oakhavenhospice.co.uk/online-donation or text OAKH45 £5 to 70070.