JUST a few years ago he was a 20st insurance salesman working from his bedroom – but now Gwilym Pugh is one of the hottest male models on the planet.
The Welshman transformed his life by losing 7st — and gaining a beard.
Gwilym’s lean frame and flaming ginger whiskers now have devoted fans around the world.
The 33-year-old has also appeared on the cover of GQ magazine and is working on a campaign with David Beckham.
Speaking of his transformation last night he told The Sun: “I had to do something about it or stay unhappy for ever.”
But the trademark facial hair came about not in a bid to improve his looks, but because in 2011 he formed a folk music group and his barber said his insurance-man look would not work.
Gwilym recalled: “He told me that if I was playing the guitar in a folk band I had to have a beard.
“It was before big beards were really fashionable. I just thought it would be a laugh to grow a big, ginger beard.”
By then, 6ft 3in Gwilym was also on his way to his new 13st physique — but he was never motivated by the idea of looking hotter.
He said: “Everyone is talking about my weight loss but it was more about wanting to improve my health. I wanted to be happy and healthy.”
As a schoolboy he had played basketball for the Wales under-16s but a knee injury had stopped him playing and the weight piled on.
He said: “I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do in uni so I decided to put that off and I ended up working for British Gas. Then I started my own financial start-up back in 2006 at the age of 21.
“At that time I was pretty overweight, working 12 hours a day and plagued with injuries which meant I couldn’t train at all.
“The business was doing OK, but I decided I needed to get my life in order and wanted to get healthy again.”
He decided to clean up his diet by cutting out takeaways and stopped working from his desk in his bedroom in Cardiff.
Gwilym explained: “It was the best thing for my health as I stopped sitting for nine to ten hours a day.
“I always keep an eye on my steps and aim for a minimum every day, averaging about 15,000.
“Walking and generally trying to be active in some way throughout every day has been key.”
Losing the pounds also changed his view of himself. He said: “After losing a bit of weight I got a bit of confidence.”
That was when he plucked up the courage to start his folk band, The Magic Rooster Brothers — and began growing the beard.
Two years later he was confident enough to post photos of himself on Instagram, where he was spotted by Welsh tailor Nathan Palmer.
To Gwilym’s amazement, the designer asked him to be the face of his new collection. And he surprised himself by saying yes. He said: “I was terrified. It was out of my comfort zone but the pictures looked great.”
He says the experience was a “massive boost in confidence”, adding: “Before that I was pretty shy.”
After those photos appeared he was approached by several photographers asking him to shoot with them for their portfolios.
Then fashion photographer Jonathan Daniel Pryce decided to picture him on the back cover of the coffee table book, 100 Beards.
In 2013 he featured in The Red Hot exhibition about men with red hair and moved to London, where he was quickly signed up by top London agency AMCK Models.
Since then, his unique look has landed him modelling jobs for some of the world’s top brands, including Bud Light beer and clothing brands Vans and Diesel.
David Beckham also snapped him up to work on his Haig Club whisky project and chose him to be the face of his male grooming brand, House 99.
Gwilym said of working with the former footballer: “He’s a really nice guy, just a normal guy and one of the cast.”
Gwilym is also a Vo5 ambassador for the NME Awards and has tried his hand at acting. He had a part in 2013 British action film Hammer Of The Gods.
He also has a blog and has racked up an impressive 185,000 followers on Instagram, which features snaps of him looking ripped in his underwear.
In 2016 he wrote next to one snap: “Around five/six years ago I was very very overweight at around 280lbs (130kg) with ginger hair, pale skin and, to put it lightly, not a particularly happy chap, so this is something I genuinely never thought I’d see.”
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He is still shy, admitting: “I’m on the other end of the spectrum of a lads’ lad. I’m not very good with words.”
But he is a whole different person from the chubby insurance salesman, and is also happily loved-up with a girlfriend.
This week he wrote on Instagram alongside photos of him before and after his transformation: “Literally anything is possible, even if you’re not aware of it yet.”
Stars who are fitter with fuzz
GWILYM isn’t the only one to transform his looks by growing a beard. Even David Beckham has been known to sport some stubble.
And a whole host of other celebrity favourites have got in on the action by putting down the razor – with some pretty great results.
Here, we look at celebs who look better with bristles . . .
Source : https://www.thesun.co.uk/fabulous/5599201/ten-years-ago-i-was-20st-and-unhappy-now-i-model-for-becks-gwilym-pugh-tells-us/