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Friends and family of Baston man raise more than £15,000 for hospitals after his cancer diagnosis

Charity head shave at the Cutting Company in Stamford. By Lee Hellwing.
Charity head shave at the Cutting Company in Stamford. By Lee Hellwing.

Kind friends and family of a Baston man have dug deep and kissed goodbye to their hair to raise more than £15,000 for hospitals which are helping him beat cancer.

Last month, James Willis was diagnosed with sarcoma aged 29, a cancer in a muscle at the top of his arm - which had spread to his lungs.

James Willis with his half brothers Zac and Marcus at the headshave
James Willis with his half brothers Zac and Marcus at the headshave

But James’ inspirational response to the news has been to raise cash for the oncology department at the Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge where he is having chemotherapy and the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital in Birmingham where he hopes to have surgery to remove tumours.

Within two days of setting up his fundraising appeal he had reached the £5,000 target following a flood of donations from his loved ones.

Since then the donations have continued to pour in, and at the time of going to press the impressive total stands at more than £15,000.

To help raise cash, James and 19 of his friends and family took part in a charity headshave outside the Cutting Company hairdressers in Ironmonger Street in Stamford on Thursday in front of a huge crowd cheering of supporters.

James, who is a quantity surveyor, said: “The oncology department at the Addenbrooke’s is so busy. I just want to do something for the department - something that the patients can benefit from.

“I never expected this sort of response.

“I am just really grateful for all my mates for coming down to the headshave and showing solidarity.”

James’ wife, Emma, who works as a teacher at Barnack Primary School, said “she was really touched” by the amount of donations received and said the couple wanted to keep adding to the total.

Among those to kiss goodbye to their hair in aid of the hospitals was Zac Burrows and Marcus Willis - James’ half brothers.

Marcus, a stonemason of Easton-on-the-Hill, said: “I am here to show support for cancer really. The more we talk about it and publicize it the better.

“He [James] is such a positive guy, he never lets things get him down. I wish I had the same positive outlook that he does.”

Zac said: “I think the support and love people have shown is incredible. When this was in the planning I didn’t think even half as many people would turn up.

“I love my brother. He would do it for me.

“He is well-known and well-liked. Cash is being raised for a relatable cause.”

Among James’ friends to take part in the headshave was, Nicolas Ferreira, an engineer from Wittering.

Nicolas, 29, said: “Willis is my best mate. We are doing this to support him and make sure we have all got his back.”

Site manager, Dan Murphy, 28, who also had his headshaved - has set up a separate appeal inspired by James’ cancer battle, which has raised more that £600 for the hospitals.

Dan said: “James is one of the most decent people you will meet. If it was the other way round I would like to be supported. My hair is a small price to pay for getting behind something like this.”

Jake Beasley of Stamford said he was shaving his head “to support James and do his bit.”

He said: “At the end of the day, I am not bothered about my hair. I am going thin anyway.

“I know James and Zac, I thought it would be the thing to do to support them at this time.”

Prior to being diagnosed, James had a pain in his arm for 12 months which he believed was a sporting injury.

When it developed into a lump, he decided to seek medical attention and went to the Addenbrooke’s for tests, and was then referred by doctors to the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital.

He is now urging people to seek medical attention if they have a pain in their muscle.

“If you get a leg pain and feel as if it is a pulled muscle, get it checked out because it is definitely worth it,” he said.

“It is about spreading awareness. It is worth getting anything checked over really.”

The headshave raised £1,400 for the hospitals.

The Cutting Company is owned by John Goldsmith, stepfather of James’ wife Emma Willis, who helped organise the headshave.

Those who attended were able to shave somebody’s head for a £10 donation. Alternatively staff from the hairdressers would wield the shavers.

Not content with raising cash for the hospitals, James is also planning on organising a fundraising ball in aid of Sarcoma UK - which supports people with his condition.

If you would like to donate then visit www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/james-thesarcomaslayer-willis


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