THIS year will certainly be permanently inked into the memory of St Helens man Mark Shard.
Mark, a tattoo artist, is celebrating a series of landmarks this year – and was saluted recently at an international awards bash.
The 40-year-old, of Haydock, who runs the Spike’s HQ tattoo parlour in Ashton-in-Makerfield with his wife, Diane, has plenty of reasons to be cheerful.
As well as celebrating his 10th wedding anniversary and 10th year in business, he was also saluted at this month’s Manchester International Tattoo show.
The awards bash is attended every year by tattoo artists from all over the world and, when Mark and Diane arrived at the event, they entered a tattoo Mark etched onto his wife’s hand in the female celtic and tribal category - more out of hope than expectation.
No wonder then that the couple were astounded to learn they had beaten off scores of acclaimed artists to land the runners-up spot.
“I couldn’t believe it,” said Mark, who first started out after drawing designs for another local tattoo artist.
“We didn’t expect it at all, especially with the calibre of some of the others there. There were more than 60 pieces of art in each category.”
Among the other artists at the event was world-famous Dan Gold, who has appeared on countless television shows, including London Ink.
Gold has designed and crafted tattoos for various celebrities too, including model Jodie Marsh.
But it was Mark’s design on Diane’s hand that caught the judges’ eye.
Mark added: “I just love my job and I feel really at home doing it. It’s quite a year with it being our 10th year in business and my 10th year of marriage.
“It was also the 10th anniversary of the Manchester International Tattoo show as well so maybe it was meant to be!”