A GENEROUS pensioner has enjoyed a hair-raising charity effort to raise the spirits of British troops in Afghanistan.

Gerard Parkes, 69, of Cobden Street, Darlington, raised nearly £300 for The Rifles Regimental Trust Care for Casualties fund after growing a beard for the past four months.

Mr Parkes, who has a strong bond with a platoon of Three Rifles soldiers and regularly sends them parcels of food, books and sweets, said he had great fun during his facial hair challenge.

He said: “I’ve really enjoyed growing the beard and it has helped raise money for a great cause because the lads in The Rifles do a marvellous job.

“I know the lads appreciate what I’ve done for them and I’ve had some nice letters from them thanking for it.

“I did become attached to the beard, but it was nice to shave it off.”