Reverand Kingsley Sutton, the rector for the parish of Timoleague, will shear the hair and beard of parishioner Geoffrey Hanbidge in a charity event outside a Cork church on bank holiday Monday 7 June to raise funds to restore a mosaic in the church.
“I have not had a haircut since December and my beard, which I had usually kept trimmed, has grown out too,” Hanbidge remarked.
“I had the idea only a week ago that this may be an idea that could raise money for the mosaic cause.
“At over 100 years old, the beautiful mosaic is a feature worth preserving for future generations,” Hanbidge continued.
Hanbidge also commented on his family’s reaction to the announcement he would be getting the cut for the parish fundraising efforts.
“My wife Susan said she will be looking forward to seeing my face again. I have two children Sadbh and Daragh, it will be interesting to see their reaction to my new look after I lose all the extra hair,” he said.
The church was completed in 1811, with work on the mosaic beginning in 1894 when Italian craftsmen began to prepare the tiles for the unique Co Cork artwork.
“From the outside, the church looks a regular Church of Ireland church,” said Rev Sutton.
“Once you enter the building, the mosaic takes you by surprise. It is really something to look after,” he said.
The mosaic being renovated consists of a series of biblical depictions and ornate geometric patterns covering the entirety of the church interior, with estimated restoration costs planned to total an estimated €400,000.
The south wall of the church is devoted to Aylmer Crofts, a former parishioner who worked as a doctor in India in the early 20th century.
Crofts saved the son of an Indian Maharaja from illness and the south mosaic was sponsored by the Indian noble out of gratitude for his work.
The shearing reverend
Rev Sutton is no stranger to shearing, having been raised on a sheep farm in Enniskerry, Co Wicklow, and completing the green cert before following 'the call'.
“I am largely a self-taught shearer. I would have done some of the shearing at home when I was younger,” the reverend said.
“We had Cheviots at home, many of them crossed to a Suffolk. It was the hoggets that bore the brunt of my efforts when I started out shearing,” he finished.