Beauty salon owner launching charity so disabled son can play sports

Jade wearing a bright pink, sparkly dress pictured with seven other women wearing black dresses
Jade Gray (middle), 36, says her beauty business has kept progressing over the years, after she bought it for only £250 -Credit:Jade Gray

A Nottinghamshire beauty business owner is launching a charity after her son was turned down from joining a football team because of his disabilities. Jade Gray, 36 and from Sutton-in-Ashfield, owns Acut Above the Rest, a beauty salon located on Outram Street.

Her son, LJ, 13, was born with severe brain damage, which has led to complications such as cerebral palsy, epilepsy, speech delay and ADHD. Jade says that LJ was turned down from joining a football team two months ago because of his disabilities, and so decided to take matters into her own hands.

She said: "There's no activities he can go to because of his condition so I took him to a football team that was supposedly for all abilities. He absolutely loved it but then the coach said they can't cater for him because of his disabilities.

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LJ pictured with his little brothers, Charlie-Boy, four, and Ronnie-Jay, two, at a pumpkin patch
LJ pictured with his little brothers, Charlie-Boy, four, and Ronnie-Jay, two -Credit:Jade Gray

"It absolutely broke his heart and mine so setting up this charity - LJ's Sports Community - is very close to my heart. I want my son to go to football or boxing without it being a problem."

Jade said that parents of other children with disabilities have backed the project, with the charity set to open in the coming weeks. It will offer disabled children the chance to play a variety of sports, such as football or boxing.

This is not the first project that prompted Jade to achieve great milestones. In 2015, she bought Acut Above the Rest for £250 from a lady who did mobile hairdressing and kept progressing from there, now having won several awards recognising her and her business's work and dedication.

Jade is now shortlisted in five categories across three different awards, including the English Hair and Beauty Awards, as well as the UK Hair and Beauty Awards. "It's amazing because I never thought I'd get this far and never mind having so many awards, especially with my circumstances where I started from, it's quite overwhelming.

"I wanted to show other women that you can succeed in any circumstances and you can follow your dreams no matter what. It was a very difficult time as I didn't know how he [LJ] was going to be disabled, or even if he was going to survive.

"Having a disabled son, all your time and effort goes into them and you forget about yourself. It was nice to go and do something that I loved as well as taking care of my son and giving him a better future."

Jade said her efforts felt like she was doing "five million jobs" at once, but the journey was worth it in the end, with her "booming" business even getting customers from Australia and Spain. She has also been going through her own journey with mental health over the past couple of years.

She said: "I'm a woman's woman and I like to stay in this community. It is a very vicious industry and I like to feel like we're all winning and there's enough room for us all to do it."