Vicar to sport half a beard for Christian Aid Week

Roger Gayler, the 65-year-old vicar of St Mark’s Church at Mark's Gate in Barking and Dagenham is to preach, meet the scouts, speak to schoolchildren, study with his bishop and collect envelopes door-to-door - all with just half a beard for Christian Aid week.

Rev Gayler said he will go about all his normal weekly events with half his face shaved because "half a beard is a reminder of how the other half lives".

The vicar said: "It’s a bit of a shock when I look in the mirror. Absolutely it looks odd – not quite normal. But I don’t mind as much if people laugh at me at this age."

Barber Jason-Lees Riches wielded the razor for the stunt for Christian Aid, whose annual fundraising week begins this Sunday. Riches said he had never before been asked to take a razor to just half a face and joked that his surname made him fitting as the man to do the cutting.

Rev Gayler said he was doing the sponsored stunt in tribute to two inspirational men - Bishop John Gladwin, the Bishop of Chelmsford, who is due to retire in August and who stepped down as chair of Christian Aid earlier this year and the late Canon Edward Finch, formerly of St-Peter’s-in-the-Forest, Walthamstow, who died earlier this year.

He said Bishop Gladwin showed him that Christian Aid is an integral part of Christian witness, whilst Canon Finch had been a mentor during his early years.

Rev Gayler said the sponsored stunt had come out of a meeting when people were discussing possible events for the charity. Someone mentioned the possibility of raising money by shaving off a beard. Then he came up with the idea of losing just half of it.

He grew his beard when he was at college and says he hasn’t been clean shaven for 42 years.

The Rev Gayler is just one of hundreds of thousands of people across the country who are collecting money, organising events and raising money through their churches and communities for Christian Aid Week.

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