Page last updated at 09:47 GMT, Sunday, 3 January 2010

New head of hair delights Briton Ferry girl Emily

Emily Edwards
Emily Edwards will be enjoying her first Christmas with her new hair thanks to the Little Princess Trust

Shortly after her second birthday Emily Edwards lost all her hair.

Many tears were shed in the years that followed as she became more and more conscious of her appearance.

Her parents Jon and Nicola said she just wanted to be like most other little girls wearing bobbles and slides and trying out the latest fashions.

They said it was heartbreaking to watch her natural confidence ebb away to the point she did not want to join after school clubs and was nervous of attending parties or going out.

But all that changed at the start of 2009 when Emily, now nine, was given a specialist wig by a charity founded to help children who have lost their hair.

Her parents, of Briton Ferry near Neath, now campaign to raise awareness of the Little Princess Trust and have so far raised over £11,000 to support its work.

Mrs Edwards explained: "She was two in September and in December we found the first bald patch, about the size of a 50 pence piece.

Emily Edwards
The family bought many hats and wigs before discovering the charity

"We just thought the worse in the beginning - within 10 days she had more or less lost all hair."

Soon after she was diagnosed Alopecia Areata - a condition that affects the hair follicles.

"Emily was fine - she was just a toddler so it did not affect her so much at that time - she did not know much about it," added her mother.

"Then when she was about four she started to notice herself."

She said Emily became increasingly self-conscious and withdrawn.

"We spent an absolute fortune on hats - just to find really pretty hats."

The NHS supplied Emily with two wigs but as they were not designed for children they were too big, did not look authentic and were very hot for Emily to wear.

The couple also paid for one privately but the maximum Emily could keep it on for was three hours.

"It would get so uncomfortable. The sweat would literally run down her face when she would take it off because it was not breathable."

Emily Edwards with Gail Porter
We were big fans of Gail Porter because Emily always watched her on TV and said she has lost her hair but she is still beautiful
Nicola Edwards

The couple said they became increasingly desperate and even set-up a support group for families in similar situations.

"We went on a family holiday and noticed Emily was starting to change, get more withdrawn.

"She would not join in the kids club and was holding back. We knew we had to do something."

Then, just over a year ago, they were put in touch with the Little Princess Trust.

Measurements were sent off along with photos of Emily when she had hair so the colouring was right.

But it was not until she tried on the wig, made from real hair on a breathable base so thin you can see scalp, that they were convinced it was the answer.

"It was really emotional when we first saw Emily with it on.

"The first thing she said was 'I'm like Hannah Montana'.

"We kept saying to her on the way back in the car - is it comfortable? is it alright?

"She was looking in the mirror all the time saying "yes it's fine. She was jumping up and down and head banging and saying 'look it's not moving'."

A couple of weeks later Emily was invited to London where she met Gail Porter, the charity's ambassador.

"We were big fans of Gail Porter because Emily always watched her on TV and said she has lost her hair but she is still beautiful," added Mrs Edwards.

"She took us to Leicester Square the following day to see a premiere.

"We have not looked back - it's just been an amazing year and we really think things are on the up now."

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