In the past 12 months, North Wollongong tradie Michael Fittler became known for his big, bushy beard and was always recognised on his daily jog or at the pub.
But now, thanks to the handy work of some clippers and a razor, it’s back to being an anonymous barefaced 24-year-old guy.
Mr Fittler said he would miss the shock of facial hair he has grown to love after carefully cultivating it for nearly a year, but was happy to shave it all off for a cause close to his heart.
‘‘About halfway through last year I decided I was going to raise money for a charity, so at least someone is getting something out of me growing my beard and looking like a bit of an idiot,’’ he said.
‘‘My dad’s partner’s son, Nathan, has Down syndrome, so I decided all the money I raise will go to Down Syndrome NSW – especially the Illawarra branch – to help people in this region.’’
Mr Fittler has been close to Nathan Bitschkat, 24, for the past couple of years but the pair have really bonded over their shared love of a good set of whiskers.
In fact, Mr Bitschkat was one of the only people not too happy with Mr Fittler’s plans to shave.
‘‘He loves my beard and started growing his own about a year ago, too – he calls me Ned Kelly,’’ Mr Fittler said.
‘‘We always talk about beards together and he’s not real happy that I’m shaving mine off.
‘‘But once he saw me without it, he decided to shave his off as well.’’
Mr Fittler said it appeared he would raise between $4000 and $4500.
‘‘Everyone was very generous; it’s a lot more than I expected, but it’s a testament to my family and friends.
‘‘I’m pretty overwhelmed by it.’’
Readers can donate to Mr Fittler’s efforts at the Everyday Hero fundraising website.