Mexican Kitchen employee shaves beard for charity

It was 12 years ago Bendigo man Pete Merrett last went under the barber’s razor.

Until Tuesday, the Mexican Kitchen head chef’s beard was so long – about 30 centimetres – he had to stretch a hairnet over his chin while working at the restaurant. 

“I’ve more or less had a beard all my life,” Mr Merrett said.

But after some persuasion from colleague Elle Neivandt, he agreed to part with his beloved facial hair – in exchange for a generous donation to charity.   

Ms Neivandt, who had known her co-worker since she was a child, said it had long been a goal of hers to see his beard go bye-bye. 

“I used to hide behind my dad because it (his beard) used to scare me,” Ms Nievandt said.

Just by displaying collection tins and setting up an crowdfunding webpage, she and Mr Merrett raised $1200 for the Leukaemia Foundation World’s Greatest Shave campaign.

The organisation funds research into blood cancers.

Tasked with removing the bushy growth was Jackie Taylor from Blaque Hair and Beauty, the salon where Mr Merrett would go for a tidy-up every few months.

“He’s usually quite protective of the beard,” Ms Taylor said, adding she was looking forward to getting rid of the foot-long facial feature.

“I hope were getting to the end of the beard trend.” 

Immediately after his big cut, Mr Merrett remarked he could feel the breeze on his face.

“(It’s a) bit lighter,” he said.

But asked whether he would grow attached to the new look, his answer was swift.

“It’ll grow back.”