A Roe Valley man is shaving off his trademark beard for the first time in seven years.
Micky Mullan said he never intended to grow a beard, it was just one morning he was half way through a shave and there was a little bit of facial hair left.
“I thought I’d keep it and that was it,” said Micky. “I kept it going.”
Micky’s beard has acquired quite a reputation. He recalls being in Dublin on St. Patrick’s Day and being asked to pose with strangers for photographs.
The 52-year-old is hacking off his facial hair today in aid of the north west charity, Foyle Hospice.
He’s been fundraising for several weeks and has surpassed his target of £500.
It’s palpable, the love for the Foyle Hospice. Hopefully, we’ll never have to use it, but you never know.Micky Mullan
Micky says it’s not a case of the seven-year-itch with the beard,
Every year, the Ringsend man joins hundreds of hardy souls on New Year’s Day for the annual Leap of the Dog swim at Magilligan Point.
Proceeds from the event are donated to Foyle Hospice.
Following the swim Micky and his wife, Joan McGandy, host a ceilidh in the evening through the Keady Clachan at their farm.
Keady Clachan brings together people of all ages and backgrounds through music and storytelling and, at the ceilidh evening after the charity swim, they use it to raise funds for the Hospice.
This year, however, the flu got the better of Micky.
“I was coughing like a diesel engine and it was only that morning I decided I wasn’t going to do it. It would have been the fourth year I would have done it,” said Micky.
Micky was bitterly disappointed at having to pull out just hours before it was due to start.
After the ceilidh, he said the idea came to him to shave off the beard and use it as an opportunity to make up for what he would have raised by doing the swim.
Micky has, even if subconsciously, become quite attached to his beard.
“I don’t think I’ll panic,” he said, with a laugh, “but it’s there. I lean on it.”
Micky said his mum, Peggy, had a laugh when she was told the beard was being shaved off.
“She’s delighted,” said Micky. “Joan rang my mum and told her the news, that I was getting my beard shaved off for charity, and she agreed it was good news.”
Micky and Joan say while getting the beard shaved off is really just a bit of fun they’re delighted to be able to raise funds for the Hospice.
Not only that, says Joan, but it’s also generating awareness about Foyle Hospice and its services.
“We know people who have lost people to cancer and we know people whose loved ones have gone through the Hospice. Cancer affects everyone,” said Joan.
Micky’s beard fundraiser has received donations from around the world, including from friends and family in America, Canada and New Zealand. The couple have been keeping people updated through Facebook.
Micky said no matter where you go, or who you speak to “never is there a bad word said about the Hospice.”
“We are so thankful for all the donations and all the people who have made a donation,” said Micky. “It’s palpable, the love for the Foyle Hospice. Hopefully, we’ll never have to use it, but you never know.”
Micky and Joan want to thank everyone for their support.
“It’s been phenomenal,” said Joan.
Micky’s seven-year-old beard will be shaved off this evening at 6pm by Sammy Tepe who runs the Turkish Barber Shop on Catherine Street in Limavady.
Ironically, when Micky first met Sammy he told him he wouldn’t be getting at his beard.
To donate to Micky’s fundraiser go online to www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Keady-Clachan
Foyle Hospice provides palliative and end-of-life care for patients suffering from Cancer. Patients with other life-limiting illnesses such as Multiple Sclerosis are also cared for.
The Hospice states on its website: “As a registered charity, care to patients and their families is free of charge and we depend on the generosity of our local community to raise the approximate £2.8 million that is currently required annually to maintain our essential services.”
Find out more at foylehospice.com