Doctor Who actor shaves beard and raises five times his target for dementia research

16 March 2018

A television and film extra has raised more than £1,200 for dementia research after shaving off his gig-winning beard, which landed him his dream role in Dr Who.

On Monday 26 February, Darren Whiting was given a clean shave from Phil Wilkey, aka The Bearded Barber from Swindon, in aid of Alzheimer’s Research UK.

The 45-year-old has been growing his facial hair for the past four years in the hope of getting more extra parts. While it was a successful move, with the Swindon-resident winning roles in Doctor Who, Poldark and Galavant thanks to the beard, he decided now was the time to get the chop for charity.

Darren’s before and after

Darren, a Web Content Editor at Dyson, had set out to raise £250 for the UK’s leading dementia research charity, after seeing the devastating impact of dementia in his own family. But thanks to the huge support of his family, friends, colleagues and people who heard about his story, Darren has raised nearly five times his target, with his current total sitting at more than £1,210.

Darren Whiting with his gig-winning beard

The shave took place at Dyson, in Malmesbury, and Darren was cheered on by his colleagues. The money from the event will be added to the total raised by Dyson people for Alzheimer’s Research UK. Since 2015, the technology company has been supporting the dementia research charity, raising more than £158,000 in the process.

Darren said:

“I’ve been growing my beard for four years and it helped me to get a part on Doctor Who, which was a dream come true as it’s been my favourite show since I was a child. Getting to be a part of it was the proudest moment of my life, but it was never meant to be a long-term thing and I always knew I would shave my beard off sooner or later and use the occasion to try and raise funds for a good cause.

“On the day, my colleagues at Dyson came to support me, it was nice to have a few familiar faces there. I’d also like to say a huge thanks to Phil who kindly made the effort in coming to Dyson to do the shave and waiving his fee. It was quite strange having it cut off, it feels very different. It’s nice to be able to feel the air on my face again, although it was probably the worst timing ever considering the cold snap we had a couple of days later! Since it’s been gone, quite a few people have been taken aback.”

Darren Whiting shaved off his beard for dementia research

Speaking about the amount raised for Alzheimer’s Research UK, he added:

“I’ve been so overwhelmed by the support. I wasn’t expecting to raise so much, I’m so happy as it’s such an important cause. Alzheimer’s is a horrifying disease and is one of my worst fears. I think I’d rather physically lose an arm or a leg, than lose my own memories. A decade ago my great Aunt Mavis sadly lived with Alzheimer’s and that was the first time I saw it for myself, it was devastating. I know we’ve been making great leaps forward with dementia research and I hope my small contribution will help towards getting rid of it for good.”

Alzheimer’s Research UK’s mission is to bring about the first life-changing dementia treatment by 2025. The charity funds research to understand, treat, diagnose and reduce the risk of dementia, while also launching hard-hitting awareness campaigns to break down the misconceptions surrounding the condition.

Vicky Lake, Corporate Partnerships Manager at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:

“We are so grateful to Darren for shaving off his beard for dementia research – we couldn’t wait to see the after pictures and they didn’t disappoint, it was such a transformation! Darren’s efforts have raised a fantastic amount for Alzheimer’s Research UK, which will be a huge help in the fightback against dementia. It’s thanks to the support of people like Darren, and companies like Dyson, that we are able to fund the life-changing research that will lead us to a cure for dementia. We could not do it without them.”

To support Darren, visit his fundraising page here: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/djdust