King’s Lynn army veteran loses his beard to raise cash for Bridge for Heroes

David Kelsey has a close shave to help funds for local charity helping military personnel and their families.

An Army veteran has boosted funds raised for a charity through a military-themed grotto by having his beard shaved off.

David Kelsey, 63, who served in Hong Kong and Northern Ireland, grew his beard for 127 days so that he could take part in The Bridge for Heroes' Father Christmas in the Trenches grotto.

The grotto, held outside the charity's headquarters in South Clough Lane, King's Lynn, was free for children to enter and attracted thousands of people.

It also raised thousands of pounds for the charity through donations from the grotto's opening at the end of November to its closure on December 22.

Following the former fireman's sponsored close shave at Lynn-based GlamourZ Hair Boutique just before Christmas, the total amount raised for the charity soared above �2,500.

Speaking just before trainee stylist Francis Bone got to work, the Lynn resident said: 'I started growing this beard on August 22 after I was asked if I could help out on the grotto. It was easy enough to grow but I'm certainly not going to miss it.'

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Volunteers from The Bridge for Heroes, which helps serving troops, veterans and their families take their first steps in tackling post-traumatic stress, also packed into the salon to see the 63-year-old have his beard chopped off.

Mr Kelsey was a bandsman in 2nd Battalion Queen's Regiment. He also owned a fish and chip shop and was a bus driver and a dustman before he retired.

The Bridge for Heroes opened the country's first dedicated town centre facility to offer emotional support for those at risk of suffering from post-traumatic stress in King's Lynn in May.

The drop-in centre also operates as a charity shop and as a small museum of British military history and has the support of a large team of volunteers who help run the facility.

The charity wants to open contact centres in Hunstanton and Cromer next year and operate hotels in the two coastal towns by 2014 to give serving and former troops and their families a free holiday.

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