Michael Wallage has gone an amazing 25 years without a full shave in a bid to become the UK’s beard and moustache king.
Michael, of Oak Avenue, Ripley, has been preening his beloved facial hair in preparation for the coveted competition that takes place on Saturday, September 13.
He will go tache-to-tache with more than 150 other bearded competitors, all hoping to be recognised for their extraordinary hair-growing efforts.
The annual competition, held at the Bath Pavillion, Bath, has 12 competitive categories, incluing moustache, full beard, partial beard and mutton chops and sideburns.
Michael, 52, will be entering the mutton chop and sideburn class.
And for those who are less beard-savvy, mutton chops are officially considered to be long sideburns that connect with the moustache.
His mutton chops measure a whopping 60 centimetres from one side to the other and join his moustache, which currently stands at 15 cms end to end.
Michael follows a strict regime to maintain his facial hair.
He said: “There is a lot more to it than people think. I use special beard oils every day to train my moustache, and also brush it twice a day to keep it as smooth as possible. My mantra is ‘train not trim’.”
Over the past decade he has collected endless beard titles in the UK and throughout Europe. He attended the World Beard and Moustache Championships in Stuttgart, Germany, in November, and came eighth out of 28. He has also taken the titles of best partial beard at the Yorkshire Beard of the Year competition, Best partial beard at the Fownes Brewing Company Beard of the Year and best sideburns and mutton chops at the Wessex Beardmen’s competition.
He said: “I have had plenty of experience and feel confident about this competition.”
Single Michael turned to growing facial hair after he spotted an advert for a television programme entitled ‘Whisker Wars’, which follows a group of bearded men taking part in competitions around the world.
He said: “I was in a really dark place at the time and after watching the show, I realised it was something I could start doing myself. It gave me something to focus on.”
Michael had worked as a HGV driver for 28 years but after a near-fatal crash in 2004, he was left with severe injuries and unable to work.
He underwent nine operations in an attempt to save his leg, which was broken in 13 places. He will never have full function in his leg due to his injuries.
He said: “It sounds daft but growing my facial hair really motivated me and gave me something to work towards.
“I am aware that people think it is an odd thing to do, but it makes me happy and gives me a sense of worth.
“It’s also very sociable, the bearded community are very accepting and you meet people from all walks of life. It’s an eclectic group that I love being a part of.”