Biker Ken Harrison has helped his Derbyshire pub raise more than £14,000 for charity – by going a year without shaving or cutting his hair.

The hirsute host, who runs The New Inn, Ilkeston, decided last May that he would ditch razors and avoid barbers to raise money for Derbyshire Blood Bikes. He has been joined in the growing stakes by regular Chris Prosser.

Usually clean-shaven and with close-cropped hair, keen biker Ken now sports a bushy, seven-inch-long beard, and hair below his ears – creating quite a stir among regulars at the Bath Street pub, which is owned by award-winning community pub company Hawthorn Leisure.

“If customers haven’t been in for a while, they’ve been quite shocked seeing me with long hair and a beard,” said Ken, “and the hairy look has meant I’ve had quite a few funny looks when I’m walking around town. In the early stages the beard was very itchy, and someone said I looked like Jeremy Corbyn. Now I’m compared to Charles Darwin and Father Christmas.”

Ken’s wife Beth, who is keen to have her short-haired, smooth-faced husband back, is looking forward to May 26, when he will have a haircut and the beard shaved off – unless he is sponsored to have his hair and beard dyed, in which case he will remain hairy for a further week.

The New Inn began raising money for Derbyshire Blood Bikes in 2017, when biker and pub regular Jamie Henshaw began having cancer treatment. He passed away last April, and a new BMW motorbike bought using more than £14,000 raised by the pub will be commissioned during a service at Ilkeston’s St Mary’s Church on St George’s Day (23 April), marking the first anniversary of Jamie’s death.

Ken said: “We’ve come up with lots of strange ways to raise money, including me having my chest waxed. We’ve also held barbecues, quiz nights, raffles, darts marathons, a golf day organised by customer Kieran Diamond, and a 90-mile cycle ride to Skegness completed by six regulars, including Jamie’s son Julian.

“A lot of bikers use the pub, and it was Jamie who suggested we help the local blood bikes charity, so we set up the Ride On Jamie fund. Jamie’s wife Lisa has been a great inspiration to us all, playing a leading role in organising events, and I’d like to thank everyone who’s contributed.”

Jamie’s sister Emma has also been involved, completing the Solstice Challenge 2018, a 297-mile sundown to dawn motorcycle ride from Aberystwyth to Great Yarmouth.

Derbyshire Blood Bikes provides a service to the NHS by transporting via motorbike lifesaving medical items for hospitals, including, blood, urgent samples and medications.

Hawthorn Leisure managing director of operations Mark McGinty said: “It’s really important to us that our pubs, so often at the heart of the communities they’re in, are involved in supporting local charities and organisations. Ken and Beth’s efforts at The New Inn are to be applauded and they’re a wonderful example of Hawthorn Leisure partners willing to go the extra mile.”

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