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'They couldn't stop me': 85-year-old Barking woman shaves her head for Great Ormond Street three weeks after suffering stroke

PUBLISHED: 16:00 24 August 2018

Ruth's hair was just shorter than shoulder length before she had the chop, although she said she never cared for long hair anyway. Picture: Ken Mears

Ruth's hair was just shorter than shoulder length before she had the chop, although she said she never cared for long hair anyway. Picture: Ken Mears

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An 85-year-old woman from Barking shaved off her hair for charity, just weeks after having a stroke.

Ruth mid-shave, at Dougie's barbers in Farr Avenue. Picture: Ken MearsRuth mid-shave, at Dougie's barbers in Farr Avenue. Picture: Ken Mears

Ruth Gilhan, who’s lived on the Thames View Estate for 58 years, had set her mind on shaving her head to raise money for Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Despite suffering a stroke three weeks before, and spending more than a fortnight in hospital, she went ahead regardless.

“It was around a few weeks before,” she said.

“It wasn’t serious, but I spent three weeks in hospital.

Ruth with her new do. Picture: Ken MearsRuth with her new do. Picture: Ken Mears

“I didn’t think I was too old to be doing this. Why does being this age make any difference?”

Ruth said she wasn’t sure what made her pick a charity head shave – it was just something she’d always wanted to do.

“My hair was getting a bit long for me,” she said.

“It was getting on my nerves when it’d blow all over the place in the wind.

The before shot of 85-year-old Ruth Gilhan, with a full head of hair. Picture: Ken MearsThe before shot of 85-year-old Ruth Gilhan, with a full head of hair. Picture: Ken Mears

“I’ve never cared for long hair anyway.”

Ruth went to Dougie’s barbers in Farr Avenue to have the chop. Around a dozen people watched as Dougie himself took the shears to her hair, which was just shorter than shoulder-length.

“I did get a bit nervous in the end,” Ruth admitted.

“It’s not quite a shave, he couldn’t go that far. But I quite like it now.”

Ruth, surrounded by friends and family who'd donated to her Great Ormond Street fundraiser. Picture: Ken MearsRuth, surrounded by friends and family who'd donated to her Great Ormond Street fundraiser. Picture: Ken Mears

Ruth was raising money for Great Ormond Street Hospital, who she’s been supporting for 18 and a half years. Previously she’s donated money and knitted baby hats for the premature newborns.

Although the final total’s yet to be confirmed, the pensioner has raised more than £1,000 so far, with friends from her knit’n’knatter club, her brothers, sisters and six children all donating.

“My family thought I was mad when I told them,” she said.

“Some of them weren’t keen at first but they couldn’t stop me – I said it’s none of your business.

“After it’d been done they said I looked like a man. One of my eldest daughters especially didn’t like it, but I don’t care.”

Ruth has been given a cap from her neighbour to protect her head if she gets cold, but Ruth insists she barely wears it, especially when leaving the house.

And while she prefers it short, she said she might let it grow out just a little.

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