A determined 10-year-old with an unusual hairstyle overcame prejudice to grow his hair for children with cancer.
Aaron Gardner-Stanbridge, from Peveril Close in Sompting, rose above disapproving looks when walking down the street and being called gay or a girl by other children to donate his 1ft mohawk to the Little Princess Trust charity, which makes wigs for children undergoing cancer treatment.
The magic trick fan raised more than £260 along the way, which will be donated to St Barnabas House Hospice.
Aaron said: “I feel really proud of myself that I actually stuck to it.
“I feel like a hero – not as much as Superman, but in a different way.”
When he was five, Aaron saw a man with a huge mohawk walking down the street in Brighton – and he knew from then on he wanted that hairstyle.
I feel like a hero – not as much as Superman, but in a different wayAaron Gardner-Stanbridge
But early last year, he finally plucked up the courage to grow his hair and give it to charity.
His mum Julie, 39, was initally shocked when he told her his plan – but the former hairdresser supported him all the way, cutting off his locks on December 30.
She said: “I’m really proud of him to stick with it for such a long time and to go through all the unnecessary judgement. When I said to him he could quit whenever he wanted, he said to me these children can’t quit.
“It has been really lovely to see a young boy like him pursue his dream and do something good for other people who haven’t been dealt the best hand in life.”
When he had his hair up, held in place by lots of hairspray, he had to lean his head to one side in the car – and it made walking in the wind a problem: “It was like a big sail, I felt like I was being pushed over.”
But when it was down, he faced some namecalling from other children at Sompting Village Primary School in White Styles Road, Sompting.
Thanks to what Julie described as ‘overwhelming’ support from his teachers, he continued towards his goal and said he became ‘very popular’ with girls who wanted to braid his hair.
When he explained why he was growing his hair to strangers, they began to give him money – so with the help of his family he began fundraising too.
Now mohawk-free, Aaron keeps getting mistaken for his nine-year-old brother Jack at school.
He will be doing an assembly at school about his experience. Headteacher Richard Cave said: “Aaron is a great lad and he has done a great thing, and we are very proud of him.”
Aaron has yet to decide his next challenge – but it might include a punk spike haircut.
“I would look like a hedgehog!” he joked.