Bearded Villains take on role as Santa Claus
A bearded Santa traditionally delivers presents to youngsters at Christmas - but this year he will be joined by a team of hirsute men bringing gifts to children at Peterborough City Hospital.
While Father Christmas is not a member of the Bearded Villains Group, the Peterborough charitable organisation is currently collecting toys, books and games to take to the Amazon Ward at the hospital.
The association has groups across the world, with 30 members in the Anglian chapter in Peterborough (BVEA).
The group only has two membership criteria –to have a beard at least 4cm long, and an Instagram account, as they show ‘you don’t have to be a hipster to wear a beard.’
Lee Greeves, from the group, said: “We all try to get together whenever we can. We are like a family and always try to help each other out - from fixing cars to babysitting, we all muck in!
“More importantly (& the reason why pretty much all of us love BVEA), we do whatever we can for charity and those less fortunate than us.
“This Christmas the Bearded Villains East Anglia are doing a toy drop off, in aid of Peterborough Amazon Children’s ward - for children who wont be able to spend Christmas at home.
“We will be doing this on December 15 and are asking for donations of toys for children up to the age of 16.
“Toys must be brand new and unwrapped for vetting reasons. They must also be able to be wiped clean.”
The Bearded Villains were set up in 2014 by magazine model Fredrick Von Knox.
This year the Peterborough chapter has raised £3,000 for Whizzkids, who provide wheelchairs to youngsters.
Lee said: “The word villain is a play on words. Bearded Villains wanted to break the stereotype that you don’t have to be a hipster or a biker, to sport a fine facial feature. When we gather together, people always assume that we are some kind of unsavoury group - but that is the last thing we are.
“We have had several fundraisers including an exercise bike relay, covering the distance between Peterborough and Paris and a team of four walked the length of Hadrians Wall (carrying their own kit) in 72hours.
“We have also tried to get involved in any other charity events that we can. For example, six of us participated in 1st March for Men Walk at Ferry Meadows earlier this month.
“As well as any charity work we can get involved with, we also visit the homeless on the first Friday of every month, where, we distribute care packages that have been made up by ourselves.”
Anyone wishing to donate toys to the campaign can drop them off at: Barkers hair and beauty suppliers, Unit 7 , Welbeck Way, Peterborough; Beauty Boutique, 39 Bridge Street, Market Deeping; Savi, 29 Oundle Road, Peterborough; and O’Neills Broadway Peterborough.