Imperial College student gets the chop to raise money for charity close to her heart


Catherine Ainsworth wants to help those who suffer with ME.


By Rachael Knowles

An Imperial College PHD student is looking for support after cutting off over 20 inches of her hair for charity.

Catherine Ainsworth, 24, who is studying for a PHD in Synthetic Biology at Imperial College London, South Kensington, had the chop last week and plans to send the hair to the Little Princess Trust, a charity providing real hair wigs for children suffering with hair loss.

Having suffered with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) or ME, a medical condition causing persistent fatigue and other debilitating symptoms, Miss Ainsworth saw disability charity Scope as the most obvious choice for her fundraising.

“My family, friends and boyfriend were a massive part of my recovery and I worry for people who are in situations where they need that kind of support and can’t access it,” she said.

“Scope obviously focuses on disabilities, not ME or CFS, but play a massive part in supporting many families in the UK.”

Now post-recovery, Miss Ainsworth is targeting this month’s London Triathlon as her next milestone, 21 months after she first became ill.

“Going extreme on the exercise has just seemed like a natural progression. While getting better from my illness, every day I was fitter than the last, even if only by a little way,” she said.

“Eventually I caught up with “normal” people but I really enjoy pushing myself and seeing how much more I’m able to do.”

Before the haircut

Miss Ainsworth started training for the London Triathlon in a bid to get fit and raise money for Scope, before realizing that her hair was getting in the way of training.

“The hair started to bug me and I had long since got it past ‘mermaid-length’, but then I thought it would be such a waste if I cut it off without it being turned into something,” she explained.

“I wanted to donate as much as possible which is why it is now so short.”

With the hair donation and a cake sale at Imperial, she hopes to have reached her target of £1,000 by the time she completes the triathlon on July 28.

Debbie Bines, Head of Events at Scope said: “We are extremely grateful to Catherine for signing up to take part in the challenging Virgin Active London Triathlon, as well as all the other amazing fundraising she has been doing to support the event.

“We hope she enjoys every minute of it and look forward to seeing her at the finish line.”

Scope are a disability charity, ensuring that disabled people have the same opportunities as everyone else by providing everyday care, family support and learning opportunities throughout communities.

For more information about Scope or to send a donation, visit

Follow us @SW_Londoner

Related Articles