An insurance salesman who shed seven stone in weight and was encouraged by his barber to grow a beard has been catapulted into modelling fame.
Prince Harry may have been officially voted the man with the sexiest beard in the world according to a survey, but we think Gwilym Pugh could well give him a run for his money in the hot men with beards stakes.
The 33-year-old model is now the face of David Beckham’s whisky and grooming ventures and travels the world taking part in advertising and editorial campaigns for International brands.
But life wasn’t always like that for Gwilym.
Having started a successful insurance company in his spare bedroom at 21, Gwilym found that working from home and a knee injury preventing him from training made him pile on weight.
Seven stone’s worth of weight to be precise.
“At that time I was pretty overweight, working 12 hours a day, plagued with injuries which meant I couldn’t train at all,” he told Wales Online. “The business was doing okay, but I decided I needed to get my life in order and wanted to get healthy again.”
But the real turning point came when Gwilym’s barber encouraged him to grow a beard.
After forming a folk band with his friend several years ago, his barber urged him to grow some facial hair to look the part.
In line with his new look, a newly-bearded Gwilym decided to continue his transformation by overhauling his diet and quitting his desk job.
“It was the best thing for my health as I stopped sitting for nine to 10 hours a day,” he explained.
As he started losing the weight and growing his beard, Gwilym set up his Instagram account, which lead to Welsh tailor Nathan Palmer stumbling across it. From there things started gathering pace and Gwilym was eventually snapped up by London agency AMCK Models.
Now in his new life as an International model he has worked with brands like Vans, Bud Light, Diesel, and starred in editorial campaigns for GQ magazine amongst many others. He is also now ambassador for David Beckham’s new male grooming brand, House 99.
Sharing his transformation images to Instagram the 33-year-old explained that the change in lifestyle is something he never dreamed possible.
“A picture says a thousand words,” he wrote. “Coming from being 22 years old, overweight, plagued with injuries, and unhappy barely leaving the house, I’m happier and healthier than I ever thought possible and doing things that didn’t even cross my mind to dream of.”
“I like what Les Brown said: ‘When you want something out of life, don’t worry about how you’re going to get it. ‘HOW’ is none of your business. The most important thing is to hold the vision’”
Unsurprisingly Gwilym’s incredible transformation has social media completely captivated. Speaking about the response to his journey, Gwilym told Yahoo Style that the public’s reaction has been amazing:
“I’ve had so many messages from people who are experiencing and overcoming their own battles, both physically and mentally,” he said.
“To know I’m inspiring others to start and continue improving their health and self belief is both amazing and incredibly humbling to say the least.”
When it comes to picking out a pinch-yourself moment, Gwilym doesn’t hesitate: “I think sharing the runway with Andrea Bocelli in Italy was a pretty surreal moment!” he says. “As far as someone overcoming adversity he’s gotta be right up there!
Though he still finds the idea that he’s inspiring others difficult to comprehend, he hopes his story will continue to encourage others to find the confidence to change their path.
“It’s strange to me as I don’t consider myself an inspiration, just a normal guy,” he says. “But if one person can be inspired to live their best life and then go onto inspire others to be happy and experience true self belief that’s more than I could have wished for.”
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