UK boy, Conor O’Flynn, raises money for Young Guns DSA

Conor O’Flynn tells us what prompted him to raise money for Young Guns DSA and grow his hair to donate to cancer patients.

Conor O’Flynn (11) lives in England with his parents and two younger brothers. He is in Grade 7 and is super excited to go to High School in September.

When we had a national lockdown, we were unable to go to the hairdressers for haircuts. Mum decided to give me a trim and I ended up looking like Professor Severus Snape. I wasn’t too pleased at first but then as my hair grew longer I found I quite enjoyed having long hair. I thought I looked like my idol Ozzy Osbourne, he is by far my most favourite musician.

As my hair grew longer, I thought it would be a shame to cut it and just throw it in the bin. I discovered that I could donate my hair to a trust for children who were losing their hair through cancer treatments. This especially appealed to me, as my gran suffered from breast cancer six years ago and I remember her losing her hair which really made me sad. It then dawned on me that I could raise money for the two charities that mean the most to me. Cancer research as well as Young Guns Diabetes South Africa, which my aunt, Paula Thom, is a very active member.

My Aunt Paula

My Aunt Paula has Type 1 diabetes. I can’t remember ever not knowing what diabetes was, my parents always spoke to myself and my brothers about it.

At first I felt bad for Paula, having to prick her fingers multiple times a day as well as injecting herself, then I realised it takes a very special person to have the discipline to do this because it can’t be easy.

Paula told me about a young boy in South Africa, called Xabiso, who had diabetes and how he was dealing with it. I remember telling mum that I wish I could do something to help him and she said I could, I could raise money for Young Guns as well as raising awareness. That day, I decided to donate my hair to The Little Princess Trust and to raise money for Young Guns DSA.

I did a presentation in my class about diabetes, the different types and what people with diabetes need to do every day simply to stay alive. Most of my classmates didn’t know what it was, I was happy I was able to inform them. My teacher Mrs Chambers, helped me make the presentation fun and informative. 

Just Giving page

My parents decided to set up a Just Giving page, with a target of £500 (R10 553,94) with the intention of splitting the money between The Little Princess Trust and Young Guns DSA. So, after 20 months of growing my hair to 9 inches (22,86 cm), I finally had the chop on the 27th August.

In the end, I raised a staggering  £1830 (R38 620,54); I couldn’t have been more pleased. Our friends and family were unbelievably generous, I couldn’t believe how well we did. I’m so pleased I was able to raise money and donate hair. I thoroughly enjoyed the entire process and will hopefully do fundraising for Young Guns in the future.

Proud mom, Meryl

Conor makes me proud every single day. He has always been a kind, sensible and thoughtful little boy. I wasn’t at all surprised when he first talked about donating his hair and raising funds, especially after hearing about Xabiso.

To be honest, I didn’t do much with regards to the fundraising. My husband Sean and I set-up a Just Giving page, Conor helped write the blurb and shared it on our social media accounts. Conor did all the hard work, he did a presentation in his class about diabetes and why he was growing his hair. What I am most proud of is that despite getting teased and constantly getting mistaken for being a girl by strangers, Conor never let it get to him. A few times I asked if he was okay after he was teased and he would say “I just think about Xabiso and a little boy or girl who lost their hair and remember how lucky I am, so it really doesn’t matter.” We couldn’t be more proud of our young man.