For regular visitors to The Winchester Royal Hotel, there might be a noticeable difference to the appearance of one of our most popular members of staff on your next visit.

Duty Manager, Alex McDowall, will soon be ‘braving the shave’ all in the name of charity.

The Father of four and his wife have been on an emotional rollercoaster for the birth of three of their children who were born significantly prematurely. Their eldest, Josh, who is now 18, was born 12 weeks early at just 28 weeks gestation. Six years later their daughter, Faith, was born 11 weeks early at 29 weeks gestation and most recently in June 2017, Codi, their youngest son was 7 weeks early at 32 weeks.

All three children were born at the Royal Hampshire County Hospital (RHCH) in Winchester and were immediately transferred to the Neonatal Unit for specialist and life-dependent care. The three children went on to make full recoveries and are now living their lives to the full.

Alex knows that might not have been the case without the superb care and support available at the Winchester Neonatal Unit. He said: “My wife and I were so lucky to actually be able to take all three of our children home and that’s solely down to their impeccable work.

“The staff at the unit were so supportive and reassuring, always on hand with explanations and answers, while the care they gave us and our babies was first class. Having to leave your new-born child in hospital every night while you go home is not easy. But even during those times, the staff always welcomed phone calls, kept us informed and reassured us no matter what the time of the day.

“No parent should face the unimaginable thought of losing a child so young. The least we can do is help them with a donation, so they can continue their fantastic work and make other parents feel as lucky as we do.”

After being ridiculed over the years about his receding hairline, Alex has decided the best way to raise money is by doing what he’d hate the most – to go bald.

He explained: “People who know me know I like my hair and I’m dreading the threat of going bald. So, what better way to raise money than to do what people have mocked me for all these years?

“I haven’t set a specific ‘shave date’ yet, but the quicker we get towards the target, the sooner I’ll have to shave it all off! I’ve decided that when I reach £600, I will ‘Brave the Shave’.

“In all seriousness though, despite fearing the thought of losing my hair, if it can help the Neonatal Unit continue to buy much-needed equipment and offer the magnificent support that we received, it’s the least I can do.”

Alex’s overall donation target is £2,000 and welcomes all contributions, no matter how small. To donate, please visit their dedicated JustGiving page.