IT was the ultimate sacrifice.
A thankful teenager has shaved off his beloved long hair in gratitude at the care received by his dad, who suffered a heart attack, and his cancer-stricken aunt.
Forty-seven-year-old tax worker Paul Freeman, of Langford Drive, Boldon Colliery, suffered a coronary while at work at HMRC in Longbenton, North Tyneside, last November.
He was taken to Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital, where he was fitted with two stents to help widen his arteries.
Meanwhile, his sister-in-law, Anne Cottiss, 60, has undergone six bouts of chemotherapy as she fights lung cancer.
Both health battles had a major impact on Mr Freeman’s son, 14-year-old Thomas, a pupil at St Joseph’s RC Academy in Hebburn.
He was determined to raise funds for both the British Heart Foundation (BHF) and Cancer Research, as a way of expressing his thanks for the care his father and aunt have received.
With some trepidation, he popped along to Hair Base in Hebburn to have his distinctive long hair shorn.
But his sacrifice has already proved worth it, with almost £500 added to the coffers of Cancer Research on his Just Giving page, and family and friends raising cash for the BHF through various sponsorship efforts.
Proud dad Mr Freeman, who recently had another three stents fitted and is hoping to return to work next month, said: “It was all Thomas’s idea.
“He wanted to do something to make a difference and he has.
“He’s been at the receiving end of what happened to me and I’m very proud that he’s turned it into such a positive.”
Thomas said: “Dad’s heart attack came as a real shock and I wanted to do something significant as a big ‘thank you’ for the care both he and my aunt have received.
“I love my long hair. I’ve had it long for the past four years and getting it cut off seemed a big enough statement. It was a bit scary at first, but I soon got used to it.
“I’m keeping it short for the time being, but might grow it again for the winter. We’ll see.”
To support Thomas’s Just Giving page go to www.justgiving.com/thomasfreeman14