Club shows support for young gymnast

Alopecia sufferer Amira Bell, 8, of Coningsby. EMN-171120-151321001
Alopecia sufferer Amira Bell, 8, of Coningsby. EMN-171120-151321001

A Sleaford gymnastics club has been supporting a family’s efforts to raise awareness about the little-understood condition, alopecia.

Coach Sammi Emsley, of Westgate-based Sleaford Gymnastics Club, underwent a recent weight loss regime having overcome a knee injury and thought she would do something to mark the occasion.

She was challenged by one of her kit suppliers to do a ‘giant circle’ – swinging over in a 360 degree arc on the high bar – in return for a £20 donation to her choice of charity.

She said: “I had not done any tricks for a long time and put a few pounds on because of the injury until I got into healthier eating and more exercise.”

She completed the maneouvre with ease – videoed on Facebook – and she chose to raise awareness for alopecia and donate to the Little Princess Trust, which makes wigs for children who have lost their hair for health reasons.

She said: “There is a lot of ignorance with people thinking that the children have cancer or something.”

One of her young gymnasts, Amira Bell, aged eight, from Coningsby, was diagnosed with the condition two months ago and another member’s brother has also been affected by the sudden hair loss condition, for which there can be many different reasons yet little is known why it happens.

Amira’s mum, Emma, 34, is planning to do a colour obstacle run in Sheffield in June next year and has set up a Justgiving page in the hope of raising at least the £350 cost of making a wig for a child.

She said a friend is cutting their hair to donate to the Little Princess Trust too.

They hope to get a detailed diagnosis from a specialist this week.

Emma said: “There is no real information out there apart from a Facebook page I have found set up for parents. It is more common than you realise and yet there is not a lot of support out there.

“I noticed the hair loss a couple of years ago and thought it was an allergy to hair clips. But over the last year it has been horrendous.

“Emotionally Amira has not been too bad. She has bad days, but I can still disguise by brushing her remaining hair carefully. If that changes, I don’t know,” she said.