Inspirational Jonathan Lancaster launches Love Me, Love My Face Foundation
It was a 20 year long journey before Jonathan Lancaster came to accept and love his appearance.
And the 32-year-old, who has facial condition Treacher Collins Syndrome and was put up for adoption at 36-hours old, has since been sharing his story all over the world.
Now, he and three friends have set up the Love Me Love My Face Foundation to support people living with facial disfigurement conditions, promote acceptance and discourage bullying.
Mr Lancaster, better known as Jono, said: “I grew up in Featherstone and had an amazing family and set of friends but despite that, especially in my teenage years, I had a lot of problems with the way I looked. I worried if I would ever get a job, if anyone would ever find me attractive.
“It wasn’t until my mid-20s that I became comfortable with the way I looked.
“But it was frustrating that it had taken that long to start finding that acceptance.
“I’ve been raising awareness and sharing my journey for the past seven or eight years, in the hope I can support others to achieve acceptance at a much earlier age than I did.
“In a world that is obsessed with image and looks, I wanted to show people my face and how happy I was with it.”
Mr Lancaster, of Normanton, has visited places as far away as Mexico, Canada and New Zealand sharing his story.
And demand for him to deliver his inspirational talks and meet families with children who have facial conditions has grown rapidly over the past few years.
He said: “The demand was growing from all over the world, and my motivation was growing but these visits were becoming harder for me to manage myself financially and emotionally.
“My desire to set up a charity grew, and instead of it being a dream, I thought I needed to make this happen.”
Mr Lancaster turned to school and lifelong friends Ben Dakin, of Wakefield, Penny Wood, of Featherstone, and Richard Whiting, of Pontefract, who had supported him through his ventures and each had their own goals to support others.
They founded the Love Me Love my Face Foundation in December. And they will hold the official launch event, with musicians, a raffle and videos of the charity’s work so far, at Now Serving in Wakefield city centre from 6.30pm on Friday.
Mr Lancaster said: “We have put so much hard work in, and already people from across the globe have taken note and expressed their love and support.
“We want to continue to educate about Treacher Collins and other Cranio-facial conditions.
“And we want to go into schools and talk to children about acceptance and not hiding who they are.
“It’s not just people who have facial disfigurements, we want to send that message out to all young people, because there’s always pressure to fit to trends.”
Mr Lancaster will continue to meet families all over the world as part of the charity’s work and aims to stage meet-up events, giving children with facial conditions the opportunity to meet each other and parents a chance to share their experiences.
The charity will also fund medical equipment such as hearing aids for people with Treacher Collins and other similar conditions living in countries where they do not have access.
Anyone is welcome to attend the launch event.
To find out more about the charity, visit www.facebook.com/LoveMeLoveMyFaceFoundation