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Handlebar Mick growing for gold in championships

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: September 07, 2012

Mick Bates of Plymouth, checks his whiskers in preparation for the British Beard and Moustache Championships Picture: Paul Slater

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In the last 47 years, Mick Bates has only been spotted without sideburns and a moustache "once".

The self-confessed eccentric from Southway, Plymouth, has been perfecting his whiskers since he was 17 and now he hopes his hard work will pay dividends in the first BritishBeard and Moustache Championships this month.

The 64-year-old claims his 'tache was born when he was 17-years-old nearly 50 years ago and since marrying his wife Kay, 37 years ago, she has never seen him without facial hair.

He explained: "I've had mine since I was 17 and since then I have only been caught once without sideburns or a moustache. This one now hasn't been trimmed in more than four years.

"It's one of those things; you're a person who grows a moustache or you're a person who would not. It's not something I do out of laziness it's just something I do."

Mick is a member of the British Handlebar and Moustache Club who meet on a monthly basis in London.

On September 15 he will enter the British Beard and Moustache Championships in Brighton, where he is likely to see stiff competition from Europe.

"This competition is the British championships, so hopefully a British chap will win – but we expect the Austrians and Germans to give us a run for our money as they have some really fancy ones," he said.

"I looked at last year's second place in the World Championships and I think I could give him a good run for his money.

"Every year I've won the Mount Edgcumbe competition – I only go for the car boot and by the time I'm back at my car I have a ticket on my windscreen saying I'm wanted in the arena."

Mick said he is often stopped in the street for snaps with members of the public.

"I can't go anywhere without people wanting a picture of me," he explained.

"I was in Portobello Road in London not too long ago and I was getting stopped there for pictures. People are usually quite shy about asking, but I don't mind."

Mick also owns a vintage Jaguar sports car which causes quite a stir coupled with his facial furniture.

He drives the Jag with the roof down regardless of the weather.

"I've never had the roof up, I've been driving convertibles since 1971; I drive them in the wind, rain and snow. The roof of my Jaguar is in the garage and that's where it stays."

The self proclaimed "temp", who has just retired, has worked as a university lecturer, pub manager and even on the roads digging holes during his working life.

He said: "I've never had a job longer than 12 months, I get bored so go back to the agency for the next job."

The competition is expected to draw entries from all over the world. Contestants will take part in a parade and have a portrait photograph taken before the 12 category winners are announced.

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