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Curls for a cause . . .Repco Gore manager Craig Withers is to shave off his curls to raise money for his grandson William McDowell's family when the boy has surgery. PHOTO: MARGARET PHILLIPS

BY MARGARET PHILLIPS

Repco Gore manager Craig Withers is shaving off his curly locks to raise money to help his grandson’s family pay expenses associated with an extended hospital stay.

His grandson, William McDowell (3), was an energetic, cheeky little boy but he had a condition called craniosynostosis, his mother Katie Withers said.

“This means he has an abnormal head shape which leads to problems with normal brain growth and skull growth,” Miss Withers said.

The condition was caused by his fontanelle closing too early when he was an infant.

“When you look at William you cannot tell that he has a condition called craniosynostosis,” she said.

The family has had appointments with paediatricians and neurologists and now William has an appointment in Auckland on November 1 with a plastic surgeon.

William was 9 months old when the condition was detected.

He had only two growth plates in head, Miss Withers said.

“You are meant to have five growth plates.”

If William had surgery it would involve splitting his skull to allow it to grow normally.

While the cost of medical appointments and surgery would be covered by the public health system, loss of earnings and other expenses would not be met, she said.

Miss Withers said she had two jobs and her partner, Anthony McDowell, also worked and the couple intended to travel with William if he needed to have surgery.

Mr Withers started growing his hair in May and now has a curly mop ready to be cut.

“This is the longest my hair has been in 30 years,” Mr Withers said.

He had endured some good-natured teasing.

“I’ve been called Colonel Sanders,” Mr Withers said.

“People think I’ve had a perm,” he said.

While he had curls when he was an infant, his hair had been straight until he let it grow.

Mr Withers is hosting an event at Repco on November 2 about 5pm. He will provide a barbecue and have his hair cut off at the same time. The public are invited and there will be a bucket for donations.