He’s been likened to iconic Australian comedic actor Shane Jacobson.
But despite any teasing comments, Dubbo MP Troy Grant’s beard is not going anywhere any time soon.
What started out as a friendly challenge – which NSW minister could keep their summer beard the longest – has turned into a way of raising funds for a cause close to Mr Grant’s heart.
The former policeman and current Police Minister will take part in the 2018 Kokoda Trek for Police Legacy, with funds raised set to cover the cost of 14 police legatees joining current and former officers on the gruelling journey.
“I’m the vice-patron of Police Legacy. I’ve got colleagues who have lost their police parents. My very best mate in policing [Sergeant Mick Eaton], his father [Senior Constable Doug Eaton QPM] was murdered on the job,” Mr Grant said.
“I nearly lost my dad. He was a police officer and when I was a little fella, dad was kidnapped and tortured and severely injured. And then being part of the policing family, I’ve just been to too many funerals.
“Every year Police Legacy have a Kokoda Trek so I bought at auction a ticket to do it and now I’m part of the Police Legacy Kokoda Trek. We’re taking police past and present and actual police legatees.”
About 35 people make up the trekking group, which leaves for Kokoda on April 14.
Mr Grant will keep his beard until he leaves, with ministerial colleagues and others pledging to dig deep in reply.
I got challenged by a few of the ministers doing the summer beard and then Anthony Roberts sent out a challenge for us to keep ours for the first Cabinet meeting. So we all turned up with a beard and then whoever kept theirs the longest the rest would donate to their charity. Roberts, Perrottet, Toole - Toole got rid of his first, he was hopeless! Ray Williams, Stokes, Elliot, we were all part of the bearded minister crew. I'm the last one standing ...Dubbo MP Troy Grant
The funds will help cover the cost of the 14 legatees undergoing the trek, while Mr Grant and the others pay their own way.
Mr Grant said he was looking forward to seeing firsthand the site of one of Australia’s most “momentous war battles”, and to helping the legatees along the way. He’ll also lay a wreath at Isurava on Anzac Day on behalf of the NSW Government.
“A group of everyday reservists, very young men, went over there and saved our freedom and our way of life,” he said.
“The police of today work everyday to continue to uphold those freedoms that the soldiers sacrificed their lives for.
“The trek is extremely arduous, it’s physically challenging but also emotionally and mentally challenging so they [the legatees] have gone through a lot already and this trip has helped so many legatees previously to deal with their grief and move on with their life, and that’s also part of us being there to help them through.
“When you’re doing it tough, you’ve just got to look to your left, to someone who’s doing it tougher, and you can inspire each other along.”
Mr Grant has raised more than $23,000 already, with seven weeks still to go before the adventure begins. In some ways though, it can’t come soon enough.
“I’m getting a bit sick of it because it’s a bit hot and I keep getting comments, people saying I look like Shane Jacobson,” he laughed.
“I’ve got seven weeks to go and I’d like to drop about five to 10 kilos before I go, and they tell me I’ll lose about 10 kilos when I’m over there, sleeping rough in the jungle for 10 days.
“I feel privileged to have the opportunity, but I’m not taking it lightly and I’m a little worried that I’m a bit short of where I need to be yet. So if anyone spots me around McDonald’s or any other fast food places, they’ve got my permission to scold me.”
Visit www.2018kokodatrek.gofundraise.com.au/page/TroyGrant for more information.