THIS hairy bunch of housing workers grew magnificent moustaches and then had them shaved off for charity in memory of a much-loved and respected friend and colleague.
Staff at Laurel Gardens extra care facility in Marlowe Road, Hartlepool, were devastated at the sudden death of John Taylor, who was group director of resources at the Vela Group, which runs Housing Hartlepool.
The 48-year-old, a keen and experienced mountaineer, was among nine climbers who lost their lives in Chamonix in the French Alps in July.
In tribute to John, colleagues decided to raise money for the Search and Rescue Dog Association (SARDA) by asking friends, family and workmates to sponsor them to grow impressive facial hair.
Now, the 19-strong group has had their whiskers shaved off at the salon at the extra care facility and the Mail was there to capture the moment.
Brian Robinson, Vela technical manager, decided to organise the moustache growing contest as he felt it was something a little different and a fun challenge that would raise many smiles.
He said: “The reason we decided to have a ‘grow a moustache’ charity challenge was because it was noticeable. It has prompted comments such as ‘what’s with the tash?’ and has opened up many conversations about John and the wonderful charity he supported.”
It is hoped the group’s efforts will raise in excess of £1,000 for SARDA and donations are still coming in.
Cath Purdy, Vela group chief executive, said: “John was much loved and well respected. Work friends, who were left devastated by his tragic death, wanted to pay tribute to him by raising money in his memory.
“John was a regular volunteer with SARDA and helped many dogs and handlers make the grade. Colleagues felt it would be appropriate to raise money for SARDA because it is a worthy cause that was close to John’s heart.
“The generosity of Vela staff and family and friends of those taking part in the moustache charity challenge has been tremendous and as a result more than £1,000 has been raised for SARDA in his memory.”
Mr Taylor, a father-of-two, who lived at Upper Poppleton, near York, had been a supporter of the Search and Rescue Dog Association (SARDA) and regularly volunteered to act as a casualty for dogs to find during training sessions.