BEFORE the charity tattooathon even started, one pensioner was waiting outside for his first ever piece of body art.

The 72-year-old decided now was the time for a Help for Heroes logo because he had two grandsons serving in the armed forces.

He was the first of around 60 customers at Adorned Tattoo in Ashley Cross, Poole, as staff worked from 9am to 10pm for a minimum £20 donation.

Owner Alex Hennerley, 26, said the fundraiser was inspired by the amount of military customers they get from surrounding camps, many wanting memorial tattoos to friends killed in action.

She said: “I have done an amputee, and someone who had lots of scarring.

“I did one the other day, and it was a photo of him and his friend in the midst of an ambush, and it was all misty and there was a Chinook on there – his friend didn’t make it back.”

Customers could choose from three simple Help for Heroes inspired designs that only took about 20 minutes work – probably the most popular was the laurel wreath around a stylised ‘H4H’. Most customers had a military connection and some were servicemen themselves.

Tattoo artist Craig Bartlett, 26, from Upton, said there was more pressure to perform when you are doing a tattoo with a special meaning. He said: “A lot of the servicemen are quite quiet about it. You try not to pry – I think it’s something you can’t really understand unless you have been there.

Rich Walsh, 38, from Upton in Poole, had a silhouette of men carrying a stretcher, and said: “I have lots of friends in the forces.

“They do a really hard job and they deserve a bit of respect.”

Customer sales advisor Rianna Jane, 19, from Kinson, was getting her 17th tattoo. She said: “I think they do an outstanding job.”