Three weeks in, me and my facial hair are enjoying a veritable ‘mo-mance’ (I know, I just can’t help myself). From my early days as a nervous Mo virgin, I am now struggling to imagine life without it. This is not only because there is something primeval and manly about reaching trim stage, as we did this week, but the sense of community that goes with it. We were on the road again last week, and what struck me was – from knowing nods with fellow Mo Bros on the tube to the mass celebration of the gala partes – there is a togetherness to this campaign, which is quite unique.
First stop was a day at the races, at Haydock, with the highlight being, of course, the Betfair Hairy Mo Chase. Betfair, one of the committed partners of The Prostate Cancer Charity, had organised a fantastic day, and engaged the whole racing world behind it. I was lucky enough to present the trophies to the winners and judging the best turned out horse – given that I am now an expert on grooming, I felt quite well-placed to do this. Some of the more prominent Channel 4 presenters were proudly showing off a hirsute look to the nation. Racing Post journalist David Ashforth (who is sporting a very fine Mo himself), who has been diagnosed with and treated for prostate cancer, also joined us on the day. David has been instrumental in rallying the racing community behind the cause, writing frequent open and honest pieces about his experiences. Through his tireless efforts, David has helped us to reach thousands of men, who need to know about this disease, through the second biggest spectator sport in the UK. We are really keen to continue to build our profile through this route as we know it is a really effective way of getting information about prostate cancer out to thousands of men who are at risk of this disease across the UK. I am really pleased that David has become one of our Ambassadors and continues to do so much for the cause and the Charity.
Next on the agenda was a quiz, organised by the Charity’s very own ‘Mostesses’. On the face of it (yes, the pun is absolutely intended), Movember is one for the boys. But the event showed me just how effective Mo Sistas can be in raising money and awareness. The quiz – which was so successful we had to turn people away – showed that Movember is all about the girls, and the boys. Since joining the Charity, it is clear to me that prostate cancer is a big issue for women. More than one in four of the calls to our Helpline are from women – and we know they can be a big influence on getting men thinking about and acting on their health concerns. That is why Movember would not work without the support and full participation of the Mo Sistas – not least because they have to put up with us fellas being furry faced for the month.
As well as my bristles ‘mo-ing’ from strength to strength, this year’s campaign is also making ground as the most successful ever. The number of Mo Bros and Sistas out there is well over twice the number who took part last year. In itself, this is a fantastic success because it means more people are thinking about men’s health issues and the increased awareness that it brings will save lives. More people participating also means that more money can be raised to make a significant difference for men and their loved ones through direct investment in prostate cancer research and services. Over the past few weeks I have met loads of Mo Bros and Sistas and there are many reasons why they participate. Some just want to have some fun, some are doing it because prostate cancer has had a direct impact on them or they may be doing it because they recognise that men’s health issues have for too long not been given an adequate profile. Another appeal for some is that they are participating in a global campaign which, despite the different ways that healthcare systems are organised, highlights that men all across the world are facing the same challenges when it comes to their health and that there is a real desire to make life better for them.
As the week drew to a close, I attended my first gala parte in London. There was the same sense of celebration and community, with people coming together. I am getting a little sad about parting company with my Mo, and I am determined to give it a good send off. In the meantime, we will be out there meeting with more Mo Bros and Sistas at gala partes across the UK (more on those next week). As they say …… there is Mo rest for the wicked!