The Rapunzel Foundation Conference 2015 ” Alopecia and Proud”
On the 18th October this year we held our 2nd National Rapunzel Foundation Conference in the Brandon House Hotel, in New Ross. The theme this year was “Alopecia and Proud”
Over 120 people attended, and were all inspired by the moving, heartfelt and emotional stories told by the guest speakers.
Our very talented Master of Ceremonies for the day was celebrity chef Edward Hayden. Edward’s warm welcome set the tone for the day.
Our very own Anna Furlong, founder of the Rapunzel Foundation, was the first to speak, thanking everyone for attending and especially those who travelled. Special mention was made of Gary & Deanne Beattie, the owners of Freedom Wigs who had travelled from New Zealand, and Jenny Larsson a Freedom representative from Sweden.
Next we met a very special young lady from Co. Wexford, Clare McGee who is just 14 years old. Clare spoke about her Alopecia with such feeling, saying that it didn’t affect her as a young child and how she only became aware of it as she got older.
In a light hearted moment the teenager said that the beauty of wearing a Freedom wig is that you can prepare it the night before so that you can sleep in a bit in the morning!!
Next to speak were Gary & Deanne Beattie from New Zealand, the owners of Freedom wigs. Gary & Deanne told the story of their daughter Libby, who lost hair and how this spurred them on to take over the company from the previous owners.
“They wanted to make a difference around the condition and make it better” and most importantly that “Our job is to make sure the best job you do is the best job for every child”.
Cian Murray is a young journalist with Joe.ie. His story took us back a year and a half when he began to lose his hair. He described the topsy – turvy emotional journey he endured while losing his hair. His speech was emotional and he shared with us how he lost his hair just prior to his sister’s wedding.
Cian ended on a positive note, tell the audience “Your hair is not you! You will still be the person you are with or without it”.
Probably the most emotional and inspiring speech of the day came next. Sean O’Riordan, a 21 year old from Limerick spoke about what it is like to have a sibling with Alopecia.
He spoke so lovingly about his sister who he described as one of the bravest and most resilient people he knows. And when he said he was one of the proudest brothers in the world when he sees what his sister has overcome there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
Next to speak was 20 year old Nadine McCarthy from Dublin. The first time we met Nadine she was so insecure and shy, and yet here she was standing up to speak in front of a crowd of people.
Nadine told us how getting a Freedom wig meant so much to her, she had regained her confidence. She has started her first job, her own hair has grown back, and she wanted to thank everyone involved with the hair pieces because of the difference these can make to people with Alopecia.
The last of our speakers was Audrey O’Hara. Audrey is the Freedom Wig representative in Ireland, and told us the story of how she dealt with her alopecia and how she lost her self -esteem. She spoke about getting her Freedom Wig and how she became the person she is today. Audrey is a brilliant ambassador for Freedom Wigs, and everybody who knows Audrey will tell you that her kindness is never ending.
On bringing the conference to a close Anna introduced all of her team to the audience. As we took to the stage to join her we could all feel justifiably proud of our selves and for being part of a truly amazing organisation called The Rapunzel Foundation.