How Mark Wilkins took on a new hairdo to raise money and remember his close friend Bernie.

Mark
30 Apr 2020

“I didn’t see him that often recently because he was such a big, strong ox of a man I probably didn’t comprehend he was just going to die like he did. I know that sounds stupid, but I still always believed really that he was going to come through it.”

Mark Wilkins knows more than most about the fickle fortunes of those affected by prostate cancer.

Having seen his own father-in-law Roger make a full recovery from prostate cancer, Mark was optimistic when close friend Bernie Tyrell was diagnosed a few years ago. But Bernie's condition deteriorated rapidly, and he died just a few weeks ago. 

Mark, who had known Bernie for more than 15 years, marked the occasion in a novel way – by shaving his head in his good friend’s memory 24 hours before attending his funeral.

Calling all hair heroes. Is it time for a trim?

Hair raising fundraising

Setting off with a modest £150 target, Mark has now raised more than ten times that amount in what he calls the ultimate tribute to his late pal. “Bernie was a bald chap anyway. I was going to cut my hair a bit, but then thought I’d never had my head shaved, and he’d think it was funny.

“So I set up a Just Giving page and I’ve had 80-odd donations, most of whom donated on the basis it would look ridiculous and it would give them the best laugh they’d had in ages.

“My little lad’s eight so he said, ‘if you are doing it dad, I will’. So we both have boneheads. He looks like a young Mitchell brother and there’s me as well. Phil and Grant!”

Mark added: “I went to the funeral and Bernie’s sister and wife both thanked me for everything I’d done to raise money in his name. It’s great to have done this in Bernie’s memory, and that something good will come out of a really bad situation.”

“There’s probably never been a better time to do something like this. You can have a silly haircut; you can do something daft you might not necessarily have been able to do in the past because you might not go out of the house in the next three or four weeks. So embrace it and get on with it!”

The pair met when Mark was the landlord of the Hop Flower pub in Chesterfield and went on to forge a strong friendship through golf and football. Bernie was a huge Liverpool supporter.

When Mark's father-in-law Roger had prostate cancer, his prognosis was grim but he made a surprising full recovery. With Bernie, it seemed to be just the opposite.

“I think with the treatment Bernie had when he was on radiotherapy, we kind of all expected him to have treatment, get better and move on, really." said Mark

“I didn’t see him that often recently because he was such a big, strong ox of a man I probably didn’t comprehend he was just going to die like he did. I know that sounds stupid, but I still always believed really that he was going to come through it.”

Time for a trim?

Now Mark’s calling on others to join him by taking on our Great Hair Dare. This new fundraising challenge tackles unruly tresses while in lock down to raise money to support men and their families affected by prostate cancer.

Decide on your new hairdo or if you’re feeling daring you can leave the decision down to fate with our Hair Roulette wheel. Hit your target, share your haircut on social media and become a Hair Hero. 

“There’s probably never been a better time to do something like this. You can have a silly haircut; you can do something daft you might not necessarily have been able to do in the past because you might not go out of the house in the next three or four weeks. So embrace it and get on with it!”

Inspired by Mark? Sign up to The Great Hair Dare. We can give you everything you need to change your hair and help raise money to support vital research and our support services. Fancy something else? We've got lots of fun ideas on our fundraising at home page.

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