On August 23 Nell Allen-Coen of Nethercote turns 23, but instead of thinking about what presents she might be receiving, she will be giving something to others - 40cm of her very long hair.
The hair will be donated to Variety Children's Foundation to create a wig for children in need due to various of medical conditions, with the big cut to be done by Hair Lamartine outside Eden IGA on Saturday, August 24 starting at 11am.
In addition Nell will be raising money for Starlight Children's Foundation Australia with a barbecue and raffle for which she has already received many gifts from businesses in Eden, Pambula and Merimbula.
When Nell is not involved in the equestrian events she loves, she is often confined to her wheelchair as she has a number of medical conditions that affect her mobility and physical function. She has spent considerable time at Westmead Hospital over the years, which was where she came into contact with Starlight.
"Starlight's assisted me since the age of 10. The availability of the Starlight Express Room, LiveWire (the teen service) and the kindness of volunteers, including ward visits, made things so much easier to bear," Nell said.
"At 18 I was the lucky recipient of a Starlight Wish, a camera, accessories and lesson from a professional photographer in Canberra. It has allowed me to maintain my involvement and passion of horses even when I'm unable to ride due to my disabilities," Nell said. She is a member of Bega Pony Club.
Now she wants to give back and in addition to donating her hair to Variety, wants to raise sufficient funds to help grant a Starlight Wish for another young person.
"Starlight changed the experience of hospital for me; it was about being able to go to other activities and I've also seen how much they supported my friends (in hospital).
"I'm looking to give something back and I figured my birthday was a good time. I'm not going to use gifts and so I'm asking people to support Starlight either online (https://donate.grassrootz.com/starlight/our-fundraisers/nells-giveback-to-starlight) or by coming along on August 24."