Fr Ulick Loring of Twickenham is pictured before and after he shaved off his beard

Fr Ulick Loring, parish priest of St James’s Catholic church in Pope’s Grove, Twickenham, west London, was desperate to raise funds to improve the facilities at his church. St James’s is a delightful, ornate building. But there is little space for parishioners to meet outside Mass.

“We have lots of children [in the parish],” Fr Loring said. “But like old Mother Hubbard we don’t know what to do.”

So Fr Loring, a lifelong pogonophile (beard enthusiast), decided to shave off his beard at a sponsored event on June 6 in order to raise money.

He joked that he would be making “the supreme sacrifice” and said: “Those who have known me for a long time will know that I have had a beard for about 30 years, and so this is a big event for me and everyone who is coming to watch.”

He asked sponsors to donate £5 each, in exchange for which they would each receive a real or emailed photograph (above right) of the newly smooth chin or, as Fr Loring said, “the frightening after-effect”.

The approximate target of the money-raising exercise was £5,000. “We’ve raised a lot of money but at the moment I am not sure of the exact amount,” said Fr Loring.

The beard-removal project was supported by Perfection Gentlemen’s Hairdresser of London Road, Twickenham. Sponsors of Fr Loring were offered a 15 per cent discount by the local company. A barber from Perfection Gentlemen’s Hairdresser carried out the shaving of the beard, which took place at St James’s church hall at 11.30 am on Sunday June 6.

Scores of parishioners attended. They enjoyed seeing their parish priest’s soft pink cheeks and the delicious refreshments that were provided also.