Friends to row down Oxford Canal to bearding festival dressed as Vikings for charity

Damian Rees, from Banbury, and Jason Smith, from Leicester, will be rowing down the Oxford Canal dressed as Vikings. They are attending the Oxford Beard Festival and will be raising money for Prostate Cancer UK. NNL-191109-112403001
Damian Rees, from Banbury, and Jason Smith, from Leicester, will be rowing down the Oxford Canal dressed as Vikings. They are attending the Oxford Beard Festival and will be raising money for Prostate Cancer UK. NNL-191109-112403001

Vikings will be taking over the Oxford Canal this weekend as two men row between Banbury and Oxford to raise money for Prostate Cancer UK.

Damian Rees, from Banbury, will be joined by Jason Smith in donning horned helmets to attend the Oxford Beard Festival this Saturday.

The pair will set off on Friday in a two-person canoe and, on arrival, hope to compete in the event, which, this year, has a wrestling theme.

Speaking to the Banbury Guardian, Damian, who runs life coaching company CanDid Yes, but has also worked a prison officer and substance misuse worker, said the two met at a bearding festival.

He said: “I started bearding five years ago. Since then, I have realised bearding is a real thing and people have meet ups.”

Bearding is where men grow beards competitively, and there are national and international competitions.

“I’m 38 and there’s guys in their 60s and 70s. It’s a playground for people who have beards and women who like beards. The winner of the world championship is from England and in our community we have double world champions. If we could get bearding into the Olympics it would be great,” said Damian.

He is a member of the Beard Club (#iBeardclub) on Facebook.

The duo’s Viking fancy dress will include a wooden sword and wooden axe, although they will also be wearing life jackets. In fitting with the festival’s wrestling theme, the pair will be going as a Viking tag team.

They have chosen Prostate Cancer UK as their charity because Jason, who is from Leicester, has a family history of prostate cancer with both his father and his grandfather having the condition.

To sponsor the pair, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/canalvikings?utm_id=121 and to find out more about The Beard Club, see facebook.com/groups/beardclubuk/.