Braving the shave

By Grace Jones | posted on February 8, 2018

FOR some blokes, having a shave is a simple task that’s never given a second thought, but there was a bit more behind the decision when Kev Wellman lost his whiskers on Saturday night.

The distinct flowing beard that had been cultivated over the past 30 years got the chop in front of a packed crowd at the Stirling Club for the third annual fundraiser that supports the Beyond Blue organisation and commemorates the life of Kev’s brother Glen.

“Glen struggled with depression his whole life,” Kev said.

“I think it stemmed from when our dad died from cancer when he was six.

“He felt like he missed out on having a relationship with him.

“He’d had five or six suicide attempts in the past. Our family was devastated when we found out.”

Kev said his mum, who was 81 when Glen lost his battle with depression, “cried every day for two years”, and spends every day thinking of him.

“We all miss him, but Mum just never really got over it,” he said.

Kev and his family have held a live music event on the anniversary of Glen’s death each year to raise money for mental health awareness and to simply celebrate one of the Great Southern’s foremost guitarists and musicians.

“We’ve auctioned some of Glen’s guitars at past events to raise some money, but this year we just didn’t have any ideas,” Kev said.

“So I decided to dye my beard blue and shave it off to raise money.

The response for donations was immediate and overwhelming for Kev and his family.

But perhaps not as overwhelming as sitting in the spotlight at Saturday night’s event in-between sets from a couple of local bands that were on the bill, watching his beard disappear one snip at a time.

Under instructions from his sister and event co-ordinator, Linda, Kev donned the cape and sat back nervously while friends and family each struck a blow, including his mother.

“I’ll never do it again though, it’s so strange to not have a beard,” Kev said, while reflecting on the event.

“People don’t recognise me when I walk past.”

“We got around $9500 in donations from shaving my beard, and $500 from the auction of a painting done by my mate Glen Kilpatrick.

“I think we had something like 400 people in attendance too. The family is very overwhelmed by the support.”

With the buzz of the event still lingering, Kev hoped the message he wanted to get across would carry on, and couldn’t stress enough the importance of speaking out about anxiety and depression.

“Glen was just so low; he didn’t call anyone or talk to anyone,” he said.

“I’ve battled depression myself, and you just can’t sit there and brood, you need to speak out and reach out.

“You can’t do it alone.

“That’s why I dyed my beard blue. It’s sort of a message like, no more blue, no more feeling blue.”

If you, or someone you know needs help, you can call Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636 or Lifeline on 13 11 14 any time of the day or night.