A faith leader who was recently hospitalised after having a stroke is encouraging residents to take part in his novel fundraising effort.

Rabbi Maurice Michaels was rushed to Royal Bournemouth Hospital after his leg went from underneath him while he was at home.

The leader of Bournemouth Reform Synagogue completely lost the use of his right arm and leg for several days.

After two weeks in hospital, he returned home and has made good progress with support from physiotherapists.

Rabbi Michaels told the Daily Echo: “I was just coming out of the bath and my leg went from under me. I knew it was a stroke right away and asked my wife to phone for an ambulance.

“The ambulance crew were there in no time. They did the usual stuff to begin with and realised what was going on and brought me to the rapid assessment unit at Royal Bournemouth Hospital.”

Bournemouth Echo: The rabbi was cared for at the stroke unit at Royal Bournemouth HospitalThe rabbi was cared for at the stroke unit at Royal Bournemouth Hospital (Image: Newsquest)

Rabbi Michaels described the loss of use in his right side as “quite frightening”, comparing it to having “two lead weights attached to your body”. It was several days before he could get any movement in his arm or leg.

“Since I started my recovery it was the therapists who show you how to control it, develop it, build it up and strengthen it,” Rabbi Michaels said.

While admitted to hospital following the stroke, which occurred around a month ago, Rabbi Michaels was not able to shave and grew a beard.

The 81-year-old said he likes the facial hair but his wife Eileen is not a fan. They have agreed to leave the decision to others, by asking members of the congregation and wider community to sponsor either keeping the beard or shaving it off.

The result will depend on which receives the largest amount, with all donations going to the stroke unit at Royal Bournemouth Hospital as a thank you to the doctors, nurses, auxiliary staff and especially the therapists.

Explaining how the fundraising idea came to him, he said: “When I got home from hospital the beard had two weeks’ worth of growth and I thought perhaps I might like this.

“I decided to leave it and see how it went. My wife on the other hand doesn’t like it at all. She said ‘you have got to shave’.

“It just struck me that we could use this as a fundraiser over whether the beard should stay or go. The donations have already started and from what I am told it seems to have struck the right note as people are jumping over themselves to take part.

“It is a bit of fun and a way to say thank you to everyone who works in the stroke unit where it is a real team effort.”

Anyone wishing to sponsor either the beard or the shave should contact Bournemouth Reform Synagogue Office by emailing info@bournemouthreform.org.uk