A nine-year-old girl has raised hundreds of pounds to help children in Gambia – by getting her trademark locks chopped off.

Megan Lister, of Idle, Bradford, was used to her hair flowing down to her waist, and most of her friends have never seen her with anything other than long hair.

But after hearing about the plight of children in the impoverished African nation, Megan realised her hair could help children half a world away.

So far she has raised £300 through sponsorship, and her mum Sam is looking to add even more to that figure by selling the hair for use in wigs.

The Thorpe Primary School pupil had her hair cut at The Salon in Idle and the money will be used by Goal for Gambia to build new school facilities at Somita Nursery School.

Megan first heard about the charity from some family friends who volunteer and regularly take trips to Africa to help schoolchildren there.

Realising that a few hundred pounds could really make a difference in their lives, Megan decided to have the first real haircut of her life.

Megan said: “My friends have never seen me with short hair. When I was on the way to the hairdressers I was excited but scared too. I knew everyone was going to be looking at me, I was so nervous.

“I think it will probably grow back in a few years. It is a good reason to do it.”

The charity sponsors more than 150 young people from nursery to university level and 20 teachers, as well as building toilets, store rooms and water pumps at schools.

While her daughter’s hair was being cut, mum Sam said: “She’s never had a proper haircut, and she’s had at least a foot of it cut off today.

“People aren’t going to recognise her. She was told about the children in Gambia and really wanted to do something to help. She has already given some clothes and toys to help.

“She didn’t really know that so many children in countries such as the Gambia can’t even go to school due to poverty so she decided she really wants to do all she can to help.”

Megan’s original target was to raise £200 – a goal she has already rocketed past.

To sponsor her visit http://uk.virgin moneygiving.com/meganlister.