Hairy biker and Derbyshire pub landlord goes a year without shaving for blood charity

The New Inn at Ilkeston raising money for Derbyshire Blood Bikes in memory of customer Jamie Henshaw'publican Ken Harrison has grown his hair and beard for a year, pictured with Mark Vallis (blood Bike co-ordinator), Jamie's wife, Lisa and son Julian
The New Inn at Ilkeston raising money for Derbyshire Blood Bikes in memory of customer Jamie Henshaw'publican Ken Harrison has grown his hair and beard for a year, pictured with Mark Vallis (blood Bike co-ordinator), Jamie's wife, Lisa and son Julian

Keen biker Ken Harrison has helped his Derbyshire pub raise more than £14,000 for charity – by going a year without shaving or cutting his hair.

Ken, who runs The New Inn, Ilkeston, decided last May that he would ditch razors and avoid barbers to raise money for Derbyshire Blood Bikes.

He has been joined in the growing stakes by regular Chris Prosser.

Usually clean-shaven and with close-cropped hair, Ken now sports a bushy, seven-inch-long beard, and hair below his ears – creating quite a stir among regulars at the Bath Street pub, which is owned by Hawthorn Leisure.

Ken said: “If customers haven’t been in for a while, they’ve been quite shocked seeing me with long hair and a beard,

“And the hairy look has meant I’ve had quite a few funny looks when I’m walking around town. In the early stages the beard was very itchy, and someone said I looked like Jeremy Corbyn. Now I’m compared to Charles Darwin and Father Christmas.”

Ken’s wife Beth, who is keen to have her short-haired, smooth-faced husband back, is looking forward to May 26, when he will have a haircut and the beard shaved off – unless he is sponsored to have his hair and beard dyed, in which case he will remain hairy for a further week.

The New Inn began raising money for Derbyshire Blood Bikes in 2017, when biker and pub regular Jamie Henshaw began having cancer treatment.

He passed away last April, and a new BMW motorbike bought using more than £14,000 raised by the pub will be commissioned during a service at Ilkeston’s St Mary’s Church on April 23, marking the first anniversary of Jamie’s death.

Ken said: “We’ve come up with lots of strange ways to raise money, including me having my chest waxed. We’ve also held barbecues, quiz nights, raffles, darts marathons, a golf day organised by customer Kieran Diamond, and a 90-mile cycle ride to Skegness completed by six regulars, including Jamie’s son Julian.

“A lot of bikers use the pub, and it was Jamie who suggested we help the local blood bikes charity, so we set up the Ride On Jamie fund. Jamie’s wife Lisa has been a great inspiration to us all, playing a leading role in organising events, and I’d like to thank everyone who’s contributed.”

Jamie’s sister Emma has also been involved, completing the Solstice Challenge 2018, a 297-mile sundown to dawn motorcycle ride from Aberystwyth to Great Yarmouth.

Derbyshire Blood Bikes provides a service to the NHS by transporting via motorbike lifesaving medical items for hospitals, including, blood, urgent samples and medications.