Haircut inspired by great-grandmother
Almost a century ago, a 16-year-old girl called Violet had her long locks cut off to provide a wig for Queen Victoria in the Madame Tussauds wax museum.
Her mother, Lena Augusta, was a wigmaker who worked for the famous London attraction and when a devastating fire struck in 1925, melting most of the waxwork figures, she was commissioned to help replace them.
She turned to her daughter when it came to a tableau depicted the life of Queen Victoria from little girl to being proclaimed queen.
Violet’s hair was used for the young Victoria and she was pictured at the time sporting her new Eton Crop and a flapper dress.
Inspired by the story of her great-grandmother’s sacrifice, eight-year-old Nell Garland, from Longframlington, vowed to grow her hair then get it cut when it was long enough to donate to the Little Princess Trust.
She learned about the charity which provided real hair wigs to children and young adults, who had lost their own hair due to cancer treatment and other illnesses.
But she had to wait until 30cm could be cut off – and that took two years.
But on Friday, her dream finally came true and she followed proudly in the footsteps of her great-grandmother Violet and had her hair chopped at Alnwick Studio hairdressers.
Nell says she loves her new hair, she can’t stop swooshing it and likes being able to brush it herself.
She has also set up a justgiving page at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/emma-gar land2 to raise money for the chrity and has so far collected £865 and is determined to reach the £1,000 mark, because that is enough to make two wigs.
Her mum Emma Eyles said she was very proud of Nell for being so confident and thankful to everyone who has sponsored her.
“She has been sponsored by friends old and new and people that we don’t even know– that’s the power of social media,” said Emma. “She is very proud of how much money she has collected. When I first asked her how much she could raise, she said £50!”
The story of her great-great-grandmother is a fascinating one. Lena Augusta was the born in 1878 London to German immigrants. In 1901, she married William Beckhurst, who had recently returned injured from the Third Boer War. They lived in Great Charlton Street, near Oxford Street, the West End theatres and Madam Tussauds.
Lena was then working for a firm called Clarkson, which made theatrical wigs for the actresses and actors playing at West End theatres.
From 1901 to the end of the First World War, Lena and William had six children, but in 1919, William died aged 41 from problems picked up during the Boer war.
Lena then found a job she could do at home – her old trade of wigmaking. She was often sent to deliver the wigs straight to the theatres and had seen Charlie Chaplin when he first started.
Wig making was a very seasonal trade, providing work mainly in the autumn. The pay was six shillings for each wig made, the firm supplied the hair, but all the other materials Lena had to buy out of the six shillings. She then moved on to work for Madame Tussauds.
To sponsor Nell, visit her online fund-raising page.