His two sons think he’s a Viking god, but for Thomas Ellis, the reason behind his lengthy beard and long locks is not to look like a Glaswegian version of Thor, but to raise money for a cancer charity.
Since the loss of his brother-in-law and grandad to cancer, Thomas, 39, has been a regular charity fundraiser, often taking part in the Beatson Walk to raise money for the cancer service. However, with lockdown, the security guard, who has worked at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary for 18 years, has been more creative about his fundraising and for the last year has grown his beard – and on 18 March, both the whiskers and his hair will come off in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support. It won’t be a moment too soon for Thomas.
“I’m struggling a wee bit with it,” he said at the start of another night shift. “It’s catching in my zip and I’ve had to put a bobble in to try and keep it out of the way.
“I don’t normally wear a beard, it’s like a big, ginger tom cat spread across my face. My two boys think it’s great – they think they’ve got a Viking for a dad!”
Thomas, from Possilpark, is hoping to have a socially distanced trim in front of his colleagues within the hospital on 18 March, the day before his 40th birthday. By that time his red locks will be dyed purple, to go ‘all in’ he adds, before the clippers take everything off.
Thomas has received lots of support from his colleagues, including those from the Macmillan Information and NHS Bereavement Support Service based at the hospital. The service provides patients, family, carers and staff access to information on various types of cancer and their treatment. Over the last year, the team have been offering bereavement support, calling families of those who have lost a loved one to offer advice or simply a listening ear.
“I’ve got my fundraising boxes right across the hospital,” adds Thomas. “I can be based anywhere across the site, so people know me and we’ve raised quite a bit so far. Folk in the wards have taken to calling me the beardy man.”
A spokesperson for Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “We’re so grateful to Thomas for all of his efforts to raise funds for Macmillan Cancer Support. Our Cancer Information and NHS bereavement support team at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary have been a huge support to families and loved one who have lost someone over the course of the last year and the team continues to help all those who are encountering loss or going through their cancer journey. Every donation helps us to continue our work and we wish Thomas well with his big shave off.”
While Thomas’ kids might like the look, there’s someone else, close to home, who is looking forward to it all coming off.
He tells us: “My wife Linsey is really pleased that I’m doing something for a good cause, but she’s told me never to do it again!”
Next year, when lockdown lifts and as life, hopefully, gets back to normal, a clean-shaved Thomas is looking forward to raising funds for cancer charities through his sponsored walks, ditching his clippers and his bobble.
More information on the Macmillan Cancer Support service at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary is available here: https://www.nhsggc.org.uk/your-health/health-services/bereavement-services/macmillan-information-and-nhs-bereavement-centre/