DR RICHARD HARTLEY is a consultant radiologist at Middlesbrough’s James Cook University Hospital, and a committed “beardy”.

At the age of 18, he petitioned his school to be allowed to have a beard in the sixth form, something which was unheard of. Now, aged 58, he has sported a beard ever since, and has resisted all requests for charity or otherwise, to shave it off.

However, along with many more doctors, consultants and medical staff, he is to be fitted with a protective mask, as he will be scanning covid-19 patients, and the beard has to go in order for the mask to fit properly.

To mark the event, he has decided to raise money for the South Tees Hospital Charity, through asking for donations from friends, but Stokesley Rotary has got involved in order to spread the net a little wider.

Peter Chandler, a member of Rotary and of Stokesley Wine Society, said: “Richard’s wife, Rachel, is thinking that Stokesley Rotary could do the fundraising, bring in the cash, and decide where to present it. My view is that we could ask for donations directly to South Tees Hospitals Charity via Just Giving, by setting up a donations page linked to their charity. His medical friends, Stokesley wine society members and wider social circle should bring in a good amount of cash.”

The NHS urges staff to shave beards in fight against coronavirus. According to the Health and Safety Executive, stubble and beards “make it impossible to get a good seal of the mask to the face”.

The HSE website states: “Many masks rely on a good seal against the face so that when you breathe air in, it is drawn into the filter material where the air is cleaned. If there are any gaps around the edges of the mask, ‘dirty’ air will pass through these gaps and into your lungs.”

When the event is to take place is unclear, but Rachel has ordered a special razor for the event.

She said: “After 40 years I think a bic razor wouldn’t be a good idea.”