A construction worker in South East Northumberland has braved the shave to raise funds and awareness for a local mental health charity.

Stuart McEwan, 51, shaved off his much-beloved beard in aid of Blyth Star Enterprises after being inspired by his company’s own positive attitude towards mental health and wellbeing.

“I’ve been growing my beard for the past decade!” said Stuart.

“My wife and daughters had been nagging me to get rid of it, but the more they protested how much they hated it, the more resolute I was to keep it.

“It had gotten to the point where they were threatening to shave me in my sleep when I saw an email at work asking for employees to come up with ways of raising money as part of Mental Health Awareness Week. I figured that if I was going to have to lose my beard, I might as well do it for a good cause!”

Stuart, from South Ayrshire in Scotland, has just recently moved to the region to start a new role as site foreman for the building and civil engineering company, Farrans, which has been appointed to carry out phase one of development on the new Northumberland Energy Park in Cambois on behalf of Advance Northumberland.

Not being familiar with the area, Stuart conducted some research online and came across local charity, Blyth Star Enterprises, which supports people living across Northumberland with severe and enduring mental health issues and or learning disabilities.

Established as a registered charity by a group of parents and carers over 30 years ago, Blyth Star Enterprises has grown from humble beginnings into one of the county’s leading providers of supported living, sheltered work placements and innovative day services.

“Farrans places a really high emphasis on mental health and wellbeing in the workplace,” Stuart continued.

“Mental health awareness training is included as part of our induction process and a mental health first aider is assigned for each site, we also have a 24-hour helpline to provide support to staff should they need it.

“The work that charities like Blyth Star Enterprises does day-in, day-out to support people most in need is absolutely fantastic and really inspiring so I’m delighted to have been able to support them.”

Jill Watkin, philanthropy manager at Blyth Star Enterprises, added: “As a not-for-profit organisation, Blyth Star Enterprises relies on the generosity of businesses and individuals to help subsidise our funding so that we can continue to deliver our all-important services to the people we support.

“On behalf of all of our staff and service users, I’d like to extend a huge thank you to the team at Farrans for their generosity and enthusiasm.  Stuart did a great job in raising so much money in such a short space of time.

“The money raised has been added into our general fund to support the work of our staff and volunteers who work tirelessly to support over 300 people in the Northumberland area who live with severe mental ill health.”