A former homeless man who grew dreadlocks for 25 years in memory of his dad has chopped them off to help people fight cancer.
Graham Barrington Taylor’s father William passed away from lung cancer in 1992 and a shocked Graham stopped getting his hair cut.
In the following years, his curly locks became dreadlocks – until he began turning his life around and decided to give his hair the chop.
The 53-year-old, who is living at Riverside Care and Support’s Newbury House hostel in Manchester, took part in Macmillan Cancer Support’s Brave the Shave to raise money for the charity who looked after his dad when he was ill.
“It was by coincidence that my hair grew in to dreadlocks. I was 28 when my dad died and I just stopped combing my hair without realising it. Three months went by when before I knew it I had around 400 dreadlocks growing,” recalls Graham.
He added: “Over time they joined together in to bigger dreadlocks, in the end I had about 15 braids which went to the bottom of my spine. They didn’t feel heavy and I didn’t notice that they were there. I had grown use to them.
“My dreadlocks were a commemoration to the day my dad died and I just continued to grow them. Having them there made me think about him because people would ask me about the dreadlocks.”
Half a bottle of shampoo would be used to wash the locks, and it would take three days to dry. Graham now plans to sell the dreadlocks to raise more money for the cause.
Graham, who is Manchester born and bred, was street homeless for three years before coming to Newbury House. His landlord sold the house he was renting.
In less than a year he has turned his life around, overcoming drug addiction and is on track to detoxing from alcohol.
Graham said: “Being on the streets was easy for me because I was living in the city I grew up in. I’m 5ft 11” so I can look after myself. I slept with one eye open and had a sleeping bag to keep myself warm. I didn’t find it frightening but I didn’t enjoy it either. I just dealt with it.
“I’ve got a nice big room and I’ve got support workers helping me to get my life back on track. I’ve come off the heroin and crack and I’m reducing my alcohol intake. I’m attending computer classes and employment sessions to help me find a job.
“I’m taking one day at a time and chopping off my dreadlocks is part of the process to rebuild my life. It’s the start of a big change and marks a new direction in my life, it’s all positive at the moment.”
Jason Broughton from Inspiring Change Manchester is supporting Graham alongside Riverside support worker, Wendy Foran. They have helped Graham with his recovery.
Wendy said: “We’re so proud of Graham for doing the shave, it is his way of giving something back to Macmillan who were there for his dad. It’s a major step for him getting his hair chopped off, and this is his way of saying goodbye.
“Jason gave him the idea of marking the head shave and raising money for charity. Graham has gradually rebuilt his life and has now enrolled on a computer course, he is doing well and enjoying it.
“”He has made really good progress fighting his addictions – his progress has been amazing and we all very proud of him.”
So far £155 has been raised for the cancer charity. To donate to Graham’s fundraising page visit https://bravetheshave.macmillan.org.uk/shavers/graham-taylor1