Salon owner Steve Croft, of the John Olivers retreat salon in Ipswich, has been hailed amongst other Suffolk heroes as ‘Volunteer of the Year’ in Suffolk County Council’s glittering Stars of Suffolk awards ceremony at Endeavour House, attended by hundreds of the community’s great and good!
The event was a celebration to recognise the extraordinary actions of a range of ordinary people living in Suffolk.
Steve Croft, co-owner of John Olivers Hairdressing Group which has four salons across Suffolk, was nominated for his work with victims of cancer who have suffered hair loss. After initial referral from Cancer Campaign, a Suffolk cancer advisory charity, and more recently from personal recommendations, Steve offers free advice and consultations.
Steve, who was one of a dozen Stars of Suffolk that received awards from over 300 worthy nominees, cuts and styles patients' wigs. This selfless contribution has made scores of people feel more confident about their image, whilst coping with the uncertainty of their illness.
I initially became involved around five years ago when my sister-in-law was diagnosed with breast cancer. Although receiving great support from the NHS and other support groups, one area which she struggled with was finding a suitable wig. It became very apparent when talking to my sister-in-law and other cancer patients that the wigs provided did very little to make them feel good about themselves. One lady said she could put up with losing a breast as this could be hidden by clothing, but not losing her hair as this made it obvious to everyone that she was ill. What they wanted, more than anything else, were wigs styled to look more like their own hair.
As my job has always been making women feel good about themselves, I decided to set aside Tuesday evenings to meet and help these women by cutting and styling their wigs to make them feel feminine again. When I was asked recently why I choose to do this in my own time for no financial reward, my answer was simple; these women are an inspiration to me. We laugh and cry as they tell me about their fears for the future and their families, and they made me realise that some of our day-to-day worries are insignificant compared to what they have to deal with. For me personally, there can be no greater reward than knowing I have helped someone who is ill feel better about themselves by spending a bit of time with them and giving them a hairstyle they feel happy with.
I would like to say a special thank you to Mandy for nominating me for the Stars of Suffolk. It has given me the incentive to go public after all these years to try and let more women know about the services I offer.
I would also like to give special thanks to all my special ladies whose hair and wigs I’ve looked after whilst undergoing their treatment, you really are an inspiration to me. Thank you to you all.