It would take a very special occasion to bring a proud Dubliner like Louise Kidd deep into the heart of rival Kerry territory as the clock strikes midnight on new years, of all evenings.
As it happens, her recent Shave or Dye fundraiser was just such an occasion. Leaving aside age-old football rivalries, Louise reveals that the Kingdom had a very special place in the heart of her sister Marie, whom she sadly lost to cancer last year.
It was the place that her sister called home for the last number of years, working as she did in the Royal Valentia Hotel. Indeed, the connection between the Capital and the Kingdom runs deep in Louise’s family, which made it all the more special to be able to gather them in Marie’s hotel for the event.
“She was what I call ‘a piece of bread’: she was very easy-going and laidback, a real Dub, and she would’ve told me I was an aul’ eejit doing it!” jokes Louise of her sister.
“All her children were there, they came down to support so it was a lovely event,” she adds of the night.
She explains that she got the idea to do a head shave when Marie was unwell during treatment.
“She had been doing really well for a year-and-a-half, and I’d gone away on holidays for a couple of weeks. By the time I’d come back things had taken a bit of a turn, and she’d lost all her hair. With the shock of that, the minute I saw her I decided to do this.”
Marie’s diagnosis continued to progress from there, and Louise never got the chance to make her idea a reality as her and her family cared for her sister before they said goodbye.
“There were times when you would just feel so helpless, and in doing it I was able to feel I was doing something to help in the end. She was diagnosed quite late, and those are three and a half years that she wouldn’t necessarily have had a decade ago, so my main reason for doing this is for the cancer research that has made that possible,” says Louise.
As it happened, staff at the hotel also lost another colleague to cancer very shortly after Marie’s passing, and so it was decided that this would be the ideal time and place to do the fundraiser.
Things didn’t entirely go to plan for Louise however, who was left short a hairdresser shortly before the big day came.
“My hairdresser of 20 years was lined up to do it but he didn’t make it, so we collared my brother’s wife in the end, god love her, due to her experience shaving her three boys’ heads during Covid and she had bought a trimmer, so she had to do it,” laughs Louise.
“She did brilliant under pressure in front of everybody.
“Another man actually got up on the night to have it done as well, as he didn’t want to leave me on my own, and it turns out he was a cancer survivor himself.”
Asked how she feels a few weeks on after being shorn of her locks, Louise says she would still encourage anyone to try it themselves for a worthy cause.
“It’s growing back like you wouldn’t believe, I couldn’t have wished for better. I’ve been in a hat the whole time with the weather, so it’s not been a problem at all.”