Richard Cornock, aka the Funky Farmer, will transform himself from a Tom Hanks Castaway look-alike to a farming egghead on Saturday, 4 July, when he shaves his beard, head and eyebrows for charity.
Richard has already smashed his initial £500 target as he raises money for the Great Western Air Ambulance Charity (GWAAC). He has also laid down a challenge that the first person to donate £100 will get their name written on his head during the “shave off”.
“Putting a name on my head is my way of giving a company great brand recognition or a cheerful shout-out to an individual,” he explains. “We’ve all been inundated with depressing news over the past few months, so I wanted to give people a reason to smile – all while raising money for a good cause.”
Richard started growing his beard at the start of lockdown as a bit of fun and says he had never grown a beard before. “I decided it would be a good time as I knew I couldn’t see anyone apart from my family, so it didn’t really matter what I looked like! Over the ensuing weeks, it’s grown to the point where people who’ve seen pictures say I look like David Bellamy, Tom Hanks from Castaway or even Captain Birdseye.”
He chose to raise money for GWAAC as the work the charity does means a lot to him and to the entire farming community. “Farmers often work alone and in inaccessible places where ‘normal’ help can’t get to in times of a medical emergency so the air ambulance is a godsend and their work is appreciated by us all. Very few people realise that the charity receives no day-to-day government funding and is only kept going by donations like this.”
The money that has been raised so far will pay for an entire potentially lifesaving mission, including the helicopter, fuel, pilot, Specialist Paramedic in Critical Care, Critical Care Doctor, the drugs, equipment, hangar, blood and plasma. An additional £400 would fund GWAAC’s critical care team (Doctor and Specialist Paramedic in Critical Care) for the weekend of 4th July while a total of £4,000 would fund two potentially lifesaving missions.
Richard is a dairy farmer in South Gloucestershire and is the custodian of land which has been in his family since the early 1900s. He is well-known within the farming community, particularly for his successful YouTube channel, The Funky Farmer, which has 123,000 subscribers and receives thousands of views every month. He has also featured regularly on BBC Radio Bristol, BBC Radio Gloucestershire and Radio 4’s Farming Today programme.
The shave-off will be filmed and Richard will be joined by his nine-year-old son, Harry, who has opted for a green Mohican-style haircut.