North Norfolk Father Christmas loses beard for charity

When north Norfolk grandfather Bill Jones walked into a barber's shop yesterday, he resembled Santa Claus with his long white beard and thick moustache.

Sixty minutes later, he was almost unrecognisable after his whiskers were shaved off as part of a hair-raising festive fundraiser.

The former policeman from Swafield, near North Walsham, had been best known as Father Christmas after making good use of his eight-inch beard playing the role of Santa on North Norfolk Railway's Santa Special services.

Yesterday, the beard, which he had grown for three years, and his 40-year-old moustache were given the chop to raise funds for East Anglia's Children's Hospices (Each).

The 61-year-old decided he wanted to raise money for the charity after seeing the 'fabulous' facilities at the Quidenham hospice near Attleborough.

He said he could not take part in anything too energetic because of medical conditions, so decided to lose his beloved facial hair. There was nervous tension in Enzo in Aylsham Road, Norwich, ahead of the shave with Mr Jones' wife Sue and friends looking on as barber Otti Casale got to work with his shears.

After about an hour, all that was left of Mr Jones' beard was a large pile of white hair on the floor.

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'I've gone from looking like Father Christmas to looking like Shrek,' said the grandfather-of-two. 'It's scary and cold. I wouldn't recognise myself if I didn't know me.

'I'm pleased I've done it. I've raised a decent amount of money for charity and hopefully we can get it up to �1,000. Now I've got to start growing my beard and moustache back again for next Christmas – I've got a Santa Claus outfit at home and it needs a beard to fill it.'

Mrs Jones, who has been married to the former Metropolitan police officer for nearly 35 years, said: 'That's going to take some getting used to. It's quite a shock to see him without his hair, moustache and beard. People are going to walk past him and not recognise him. He will have to wear a hat indoors.

'I agree totally with why he has done it; we have been very fortunate with our children but some other families are not so lucky.

'Because of his medical condition, he can't do anything like a marathon or skydive so it's really admirable that he's done this and has raised so much money. We're still hoping to raise over �1,000.'

So far, Mr Jones has raised more than �825 for Each, which supports families and cares for children and young people with life-threatening conditions across East Anglia.

Jessica Hiscocks, a Norfolk fundraiser for Each, said: 'It's just such a unique thing to do, especially just after Christmas. It's absolutely brilliant and to know he has raised more than �800 is fantastic. It's also kept us all in the Christmas spirit.'

To donate funds, go to www.virginmoneygiving.com/billjones.

kate.scotter@archant.co.uk

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