Ask Michael Coyle how long it has been since he got his hair cut and he can’t tell you.
“Maybe four, maybe five years ago,” he says. “To be honest, I can’t remember!”
However long it has been since the SDLP councillor sat in a chair at the hairdressers, it has been long enough for his tresses to have grown 11 inches.
The Dungiven man admits his flowing locks - which have no particular hair care regime - have become something of a trademark for him.
“I suppose people know me now from my hair, within the SDLP and further afield. People can recognise me from behind from my hair,” he says, laughing. “Two years ago someone said they’d seen me at the SDLP Party Conference because they saw it on television. They said they saw the hair and knew it was me!”
Over the past few years, the straight talking politician has taken plenty of requests from people urging him to go for the chop, telling him it would make him look younger, among a host of other attractive reasons.
“Lots of people have told me to get it cut; too many to count,” he says. “I suppose that is one of the reasons why I am getting it cut, but there is no point in getting it cut just for the sake of it.”
Approaching his 65th birthday the dad-of-two also has a very poignant reason for the dramatic hair cut - he will be raising funds for the Limavady branch of Friends of Marie Curie. It’s a natural choice for Michael as it is a charity close to his heart.
Michael’s wife, Mary passed away eight years ago from cancer. He says Mary was a great supporter of Marie Curie and the family found excellent support and comfort from Marie Curie nurses during her illness.
“I think Mary would be proud of me for doing this, but she’d be saying first ‘get the hair cut’!”
Michael’s daughters, Laura and Julie were also among those urging him to get the hair cut, so he has decided to go for the big snip in October.
The man who will have the honour of cutting Michael’s hair will be well known stylist Mark Rice from Limavady, however, Michael says his party colleague MLA John Dallat might have a chance to cut off a couple of inches, “but I’m not sure he’d be able to reach it!”
In the meantime, Michael warns his SDLP colleagues in the North West, and further afield, they can expect a request for donations.
“I’ll be looking at who donates and how much,” he says, joking, “Seriously though, I’ll be grateful for any donation as no donation is too small, and it will be going to a great cause.”
Hear Michael’s thoughts on the big chop online at derryjournal.com