A FORMER Saints physiotherapist has braved the shave to raise money for the NHS.

Phil Wilson, who now runs The Twyford Clinic, said goodbye to his huge beard which he had named 'Geoff'.

The fundraiser has seen nearly £2,600 in donations which will be sent to the NHS Heroes charity.

He told the Echo: "I decided to shave my beard as it was so massive it would make a great statement and hopefully draw some attention to my fundraising.

"I had Geoff for three years and initially grew him as I had some small issues on my skin which the NHS helped me with. I put a cream on to burn the skin off and allow new skin to grow – so I couldn’t shave and my wife Lia loved it so I just kept on growing it.

"Captain Tom also inspired me, and I used to work for the NHS as a physiotherapist as a junior and then returned as a consultant physiotherapist for five years."

Mr Wilson's beard took around half an hour to shave and his wife had to use heavy duty clippers.

"I missed him at first," he added, "but I’m used to it now although my face was a little cold to start with.

"I was really surprised when he came off as I had a decent suntan underneath. I thought my chin would be milky white!"

Mr Wilson's clinic in Twyford Clinic is open during lockdown and he says being clean shaven makes wearing a face mask easier.

"I see all types of injury from back pins to osteoarthritis and joint injuries. I get a lot of sports injury patients with my background as the physio for Southampton FC. "I was at Saints for ten years, first as head of the medical team in the academy for four years treating players aged seven to18, when some great youngsters came through, including Gareth Bale whom I saw as an eight-year-old.

"I thought 'he’ll make it' as he just had a great focus. Also, I treated Theo Walcott, Adam Llalana and many others.

"I then got promoted to work with the first team squad and in my first year introduced a prevention assessment strategy which in the first year led to 40 per cent less non impact injuries in one season which is an amazing advantage to a team at Premiership level.

"Working at Southampton allowed me the time to develop my skills which looks at the whole biomechanics of your body and determine how to find the cause of the problem leading to curing the pain."

Donations can still be made at: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/phillip-wilson4.