THE world's greatest natural moustache began its life in Shoreham six years ago.
Paul Lewis, 36, who took the natural moustache title at the World Beard and Moustache Champion-ships on Saturday, September 1, started growing his facial fluff as part of a friendly challenge between colleagues at Shoreham Airport-based engineering company Ricardo.
His first effort, started in 2002, included a beard, but he shaved off the excess when he realised the moustache had more potential.
A natural moustache is not enhanced by any styling aids, such as wax or hairspray, and has to keep its shape naturally.
Paul said: "It tends to curl naturally in the right direction, which makes it easy to keep in shape.
"When I saw the other competitors I didn't think I stood much chance when compared with some of them.
"I was surprised when my name was called out in the final three, and was convinced Mikael Strauss would win because his moustache was so much larger and longer."
For the last two years, many of his friends, including girlfriend Sarah Booker, a Herald sub-editor from Shoreham, pestered him to enter the championships hosted by Britain's Handlebar Club, because it was taking place in Brighton.
Sarah said: "Paul is quite shy and unassuming, so it was quite a battle to get him to finally fill in the form.
"It was only a week before the competition that he sent in his application to the Handlebar Club, which he joined on the day.
"His moustache is impressive and suits him, so I was thrilled when he made the final."
Sarah and Paul's father Geoffrey, whose late parents used to live in Steyning, were at the front of the stage for the winning announcement.
When Mikael Strauss's name was called out in second place, Paul looked visibly shocked.
As soon as he was presented with his first place, giant moustache mug, Paul was whisked off for interviews with ITV local, the Press Association, and TIME magazine.
He has also featured on BBC South Today, and on the BBC's website.
Paul said: "I'm comfortably relaxed with my new fame. I'm taking it in my stride.
"I've had a couple of comments when I've been out, but I'm used to that as for years people have wanted to have their photograph taken with me, because a moustache this size is so unusual."
The next World Beard and Moustache Championship takes place in Anchorage, Alaska in 2009.
What do you think?
Have you got a better moustache?
Were you one of the Ricardo engineers who started growing hirsute at the same time as Paul?
Let us know in the comment box below.
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