A College Student Support Advisor Dyes Hair to Raise Funds in Memory of Friend and Colleague John Headlam

A STUDENT support advisor has taken on a rosy hue in a fundraising move that would have left her friend and colleague tickled pink.

Darlington College’s Julie Fraterrigo has adopted the vivid shade in memory of popular construction lecturer John Headlam, who died after developing a CNS lymphoma brain tumour aged just 52.

More than 260 people attended John’s funeral and life celebration last month which lasted 13 hours.

Julie decided she wanted to do something in his memory and to help others with the condition.

So she dyed her hair pink and set up a funding page to raise as much money as possible for the hospital that treated him.

“He was the most hilarious man, just so funny that he would have me crying with laughter,” said Julie, who worked with John with multi-skilled students taking bricklaying, joinery, plumbing, electrical and plastering. “He kept that humour all the way through. He was fantastic.

“I had another friend who died from cervical cancer aged 32 and I dyed my hair then to raise some money. So I wanted to dye my hair again, raspberry rebel, and I’ll keep it that way until John’s birthday on April 17.

“I never heard anyone say a bad thing about John, nor him say anything bad about anyone else and his students loved him. It is such a sad loss and I want us to raise as much money as possible because God wanted a wall built and he asked John.”

John Headlam
Sadly missed, Darlington College bricklaying lecturer John Headlam

John, of Billingham, was the youngest of four children and was renowned for his humour, even at school.

On leaving school he worked for builders Colin Beck Ltd and began an apprenticeship in bricklaying at college.

Later he took up teaching bricklaying at Darlington College. His love of music was second to none and he frequently DJed at other people’s parties.

John and his wife Karen were seasoned travellers holidaying in Europe, Florida, Las Vegas and Canada.

Karen said: “He was loved and respected by everyone who ever met him. He was the most amazing, kind, friendly person I have ever met and would do anything for anyone. He lived a fun-filled full life and the 30 years we spent together were the most amazing happy times, with a lifetime of wonderful memories.”

She said his health started to fail three years ago, slightly at first, leaving him feeling tired and constantly fighting various symptoms.

In April 2022 he had a massive seizure and it was revealed that he had a CNS lymphoma brain tumour.

Karen said: “James Cook Hospital’s haematology department did everything they could to help John to fight this and he underwent two intense rounds of chemotherapy. Unfortunately he was not strong enough to fight this any longer and left us while he still had his strength, his dignity and above all else his amazing sense of humour.

 “I am overwhelmed that Julie is doing such a selfless gesture to promote the awareness of this cruel disease and I am totally in awe of her efforts for her friend, as well as being blown away by the support and respect shown by all of John’s colleagues and students.”

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