A FATHER-of-three who “hasn’t touched” his facial hair for nearly six months is set to brave the shave to raise money for the charity which supported his dad during his battle with leukaemia

Colchester Royal Grammar School alumni Rob Lodge has been growing his beard since September, two months after his father John died.

He has agreed to finally face the chop, but only once £10,000 has been raised for Bloodwise, the country’s biggest blood cancer research charity.

Gazette: Rob's beard has been growing unkempt since SeptemberRob's beard has been growing unkempt since September

Rob, 40, said: “I have always had facial hair and my family are not especially keen on it.

“It started as a bit of a joke at first. My sister asked how much it would cost to get me to shave it off and it escalated to £10,000.

“From September it hasn’t been touched. It has got to the point where I am walking down the street and people are looking at me strangely which is not what I was doing this for.

“Bloodwise have done such an amazing job for us and to be able to raise money for them is what it is about.”

John, who lived in Brightlingsea, first visited the doctor with a persistent cough at the start of 2018.

He was shocked to be told he was suffering from leukaemia and given the bombshell news he had just a few weeks to live.

Rob, who runs a marketing firm, said: “He was incredibly fortunate enough to be offered a trial which was taking place at St Barts Hospital, London.

“The medical view was this treatment was in order to cure the disease rather than just prolong the inevitable.

“Within a matter of hours, he had been transferred from GP to hospital, and then specialist care in London.”

Gazette: John and Rob Lodge in hospitalJohn and Rob Lodge in hospital

Early reaction to the treatment was positive and intensive chemotherapy was working well, however, doctors warned the family the cancer was almost certain to return more aggressively.

The only option was stem cell replacement therapy.

Rob said: “This new course of treatment went ahead and after another intense course of treatment our family welcomed dad back home for Christmas 2018.

“Things were looking positive, but after a change to the support medication dad was taking at home, things rapidly deteriorated in June.

“We lost Dad on the July 3. He was 69-years-old.”

Despite his death John’s wife Maria, daughter Katie, oldest son James and Rob were incredibly grateful for care he received, which they knew wouldn’t have been possible without Bloodwise.

Rob said: “You often think leukaemia and think of kids but it happens to people of all ages. It is a tough thing to go through whatever age you are.

“Bloodwise were so supportive for us and still are.”

So far, the family have managed to raise roughly £7,000 towards their £10,000 target, but have launched a GoFundMe page hoping to collect the rest.

Rob, who now lives in Milton Keynes with wife, Susie, and children Delila, one, Matilda, four, and Jacob, six, said: “We first started raising money on JustGiving and there was quite a large cash injection made by Lloyds Bank as one of their charity choices.”

He added: “I really think I am ready to shave it off now. A couple of weeks ago my wife was looking at a picture of my kids with Santa and she said my beard was bigger than his.

“Every time I go to the barbers to have my hair cut my barber asks if I want it tidied up but I have to say no.

“I have not been clean shaven since my youngest was born so she may not recognise me.

“It really is getting very large. I’ve been compared to Catweazle.”

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