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Hair today, gone tomorrow for Midlands charity’s very own Father Christmas

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Hair today, gone tomorrow for Midlands charity’s very own Father Christmas

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Published by kerri smith for Reach the People Charity in Housing and also in Communities

Janette Beckett (Head of Governance, Marketing and Quality) with Patrick Smith (Head of Finance) Janette Beckett (Head of Governance, Marketing and Quality) with Patrick Smith (Head of Finance)

Father Christmas shaved off his decades’ old beard for charity to bring festive cheer to vulnerable people across the Midlands.

Patrick Smith, Head of Finance at Trident Reach the People Charity, is known among colleagues for his striking resemblance to Santa.

But, in true festive spirit, the 57-year-old father-of-two, from Studley, near Redditch, decided to have his 37-year-old beard shaved off to raise precious funds for the charity’s vital work.

The Midlands-based charity helps vulnerable people through its range of care and support services, including the homeless, people with disabilities and women fleeing domestic abuse.

Patrick’s beard shave raised £1,500 in sponsorship, which will help pay for a minibus for the Trident Reach Older People Services’ ‘Young @ Heart’ initiative so customers can go on trips out and take part in social activities.

Patrick, who has worked at Trident Reach for four years and is also a swimming coach at Redditch Swimming Club, said: “I don’t look as bad as I thought I might without a beard but it does seem strange and I am still getting used to the look.

“I am delighted it raised so much money for the charity – it makes it all worthwhile. But, if I do grow my beard back, I hope it will be a more consistent white so that I can play Father Christmas properly next year.”

The beard shave took place yesterday (19th December) at Cherish House in Bradford Street, Birmingham, one of the charity’s two homes for Chinese elders.

Three of Patrick’s colleagues spent half-an-hour doing the deed – Head of Governance Janette Beckett, Head of Older People’s Services Elaine Tang and Administration Officer Danny Beckett.

It was one of a series of events organised as part of Trident Reach’s annual ‘Shutdown Day’, when staff switch off their computers and take a break from their usual duties to take part in different activities to benefit the community.

One project involved staff teaming up with fellow charity Midland Mencap to arrange a ‘Winter Wonderland’ grotto and day of festivities which were easily accessible for people with learning disabilities.

The event, at the Enterprise Hub, in Weoley Castle, included gifts, stalls, a festive buffet, carol singing and workshops based around making mince pie and Christmas decorations.

It also featured the chance for Trident Reach’s Learning Disabilities Service customers to “make a wish” by filling in and posting a card with details of what they would like to happen in 2013. Charity staff will then look at all the cards and work to grant their wishes, whether as simple as opening a bank account or going on holiday.

Other activities held during the ‘Shutdown Day’ across the West Midlands, Shropshire and Derbyshire included staff donning Santa hats to visit Trident Reach tenants with trays of mince pies, distributing sleeved blankets to older residents and hosting Christmas parties for service users.

Dalvinder Kaur, Head of Learning Disability Services at Trident Reach, said: “The idea of this Christmas Shutdown Day is to run a variety of activities which will benefit our customers, while having some fun and getting into the festive spirit with them.”

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