A LISBELLAW schoolgirl with a rare muscle-wasting condition that has left her wheelchair-bound has cut off all of her hair for charity.

Seven-year-old Zahra Irvine, a P3 pupil at Lisbellaw Primary School, was diagnosed with Ullrich congenital muscular dystrophy around two years ago.

Congenital muscular dystrophy affects people from birth, causing muscles to weaken and waste as they grow, leading to increasing disability.

Ullrich congenital muscular dystrophy is caused by the lack of a vital protein that acts as a scaffold supporting muscle cells.

It is one of the most common forms of congenital muscular dystrophy (CMD), and affects about 50 per cent of the 400 to 500 people with CMD.

Zahra, the eldest daughter of Robert and Ann Irvine, made the decision to keep growing her hair when she was in nursery school.

Yesterday (Wednesday), in front of the whole school, she was shorn of her flowing locks to raise money for Muscular Dystrophy UK, which supports individuals and families living with devastating muscle-wasting conditions.

The school also held a cake sale, with all the proceeds being donated to Muscular Dystrophy UK.

Meanwhile, Zahra’s hair will be given to the Little Princess Trust, a charity that provides real hair wigs free of charge to children and young adults up to the age of 24, who have lost their own hair due to cancer treatment and other illnesses.

Zahra, who has been in a wheelchair since the age of three, lives on a farm just outside Lisbellaw with her parents, younger brother Andrew (6), who is in P2, and four-year-old sister Lauren, who attends the local nursery.

Speaking to the Impartial Reporter this week, her mum, Ann, said that her eldest daughter was the “happiest wee child you could ask for”.

Ann said: “Zahra coped well with her diagnosis. We talked to her about it and she just gets on with things. The wheelchair doesn’t hold her back.

“She is quite determined and the school has accommodated her very well. There’s always a smile on her face and she is a very happy child.” She said that the family wanted to thank everyone for their support and generosity, adding that she was “very grateful” to the mums from Lisbellaw Primary School for doing the baking for the cake sale.

Julie Harvey, Muscular Dystrophy UK’s Northern Ireland Development Manager, said: “We feel so proud of Zahra for cutting her hair for Muscular Dystrophy UK. If anyone would like to support Zahra’s challenge, please visit http://www.musculardystrophyuk.org/ to donate.