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Big-hearted Ross-shire mum set to lose her locks to boost coffers of Haven Centre for young people with learning disabilities as 11-year-old autistic son inspires haircut taking place in Achmore Hall

By Hector MacKenzie

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Angela Stuart-Gibson and son Fergus.
Angela Stuart-Gibson and son Fergus.

A LOCHALSH woman is getting ready to chop her flowing locks for a cause close to her heart tomorrow.

Angela Stuart-Gibson is getting behind plans for the multimillion-pound Haven Centre being built in Inverness for young people with learning disabilities and complex needs.

One her children, Fergus (11) was diagnosed with autism in 2014 and news of plans for the much-needed centre left Angela in tears of relief.

Angela – who describes herself as the mum of three beautiful children – explained: "Although we knew a bit about autism we had a lot to learn.Fergus was non-verbal with a few sounds that he used to communicate.When you have a child that isn’t able to use words you find other ways to help them express there needs and wants."

She said: "Fergus isn’t able to tell us when he is sad or if something is sore which can be very frustrating for him and heart-breaking for us. We have learned what different sounds mean and we are very in tune to his body language to try and figure out what's up to try and help him.

"Fergus is an energetic happy wee guy who loves Lego and water, he loves going out on the piggyback bike and has his arms stretched out to feel the wind and he loves spending time with his brother and sister on the trampoline. He enjoys making animals out of felt and painting and he takes such joy out of nursery rhymes especially animal ones.

"We love where we live, we feel incredibly lucky to be surrounded by supportive neighbours and friends but we have limited places we can go due to Fergus complex needs. Fergus wouldn’t cope with a cafe, restaurant shops due to the noise and sensory overload that these settings come with."

Angela Stuart-Gibson haircut will also boost the Little Princess Trust which provides custom-made wigs for young people with cancer.
Angela Stuart-Gibson haircut will also boost the Little Princess Trust which provides custom-made wigs for young people with cancer.

She said that when she heard about the Elsie Normington Foundation and the plan to build a centre for children and young adults with severe, profound and multiple learning disabilities and complex needs in the Highlands and islands: "I cried and felt this enormous relief that at long last we as a family will have somewhere to go. Fergus will be able to go and discover new experiences and be accepted.

"The biggest support you can have when you have a child with complex needs is other parents and carers who are in a similar boat and being able to just talk and not be judged. The centre is going to give children and families the opportunity in a safe environment to be able to do this.

"I wanted to do something to try and raise funds for the centre but with limited time on my hands I came up with the idea of a haircut. I’m not going for the full shave as this would be to much of a change for Fergus but I’m going as short as possible. I’ve been growing it since last year to be long enough to be donated to the The Little Princess Trust who provide free real hair wigs to children and young people, up to 24 years, who have lost their own hair through cancer treatment or other conditions."

She is just a whisker away too from hitting a £1500 target having received pledges for £1410 for the Elsie Normington Foundation Haven Appeal.

WATCH: Construction progress on £4million Haven Centre

"I know money is tight for everyone but if you could spare a few pounds to donate we would be very grateful to try and raise as much as possible for this wonderful cause that is going to benefit so many children and young adults across the Highlands including our wee family."

Angela is mum to Jasper (16) and Ellie-may (9). Jasper has recently left school and is in Portree College doing a cooking initiative, Ellie-may is in Auchtertyre Primary and attends young carers also.

The haircut will take place in Achmore Hall on July 23.

To sponsor Angela's effort, click here.

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