Matt Dawson, ex-England rugby world cup winner, Question of Sport team captain, Strictly Come Dancing contestant and Beating Bowel Cancer Patron, is leading this year’s Decembeard, the charity’s annual campaign to highlight the issue of bowel cancer, the UK’s second biggest cancer killer.
Decembeard 2017, which launches today, challenges participants to ditch the razor and grow a beard during December to raise awareness of bowel cancer, and to raise funds for the support and information services Beating Bowel Cancer provides for all those affected by the disease.
It’s a cause close to Matt’s heart as his grandfather died from bowel cancer and his mum was also diagnosed with bowel cancer in her 50s.
He said: “Decembeard is a fun campaign and a great opportunity for anyone to become a Decembeard champion. But the purpose is deadly serious: in the United Kingdom, bowel cancer claims a life every half hour.
“Yet crucially, the disease is eminently treatable if diagnosed early, which is why I am passionate about raising awareness of bowel cancer and its potential symptoms.”
“My grandfather was only 60 when he died from bowel cancer, as the cancer was advanced when he was diagnosed. My mum then pushed for diagnosis when she felt like something wasn’t right.”
“Having a strong family history of bowel cancer means I could be more at risk than others, which is why I have undergone regular screening. Eating well and staying in shape also helps reduce the risk.”
The campaign will launch today at The Woodman in Birmingham. Beating Bowel Cancer supporter and member of the British Beard Club, Simon Sheffield, will be there to kick off Decembeard.
He said: “I have supported Beating Bowel Cancer’s Decembeard since 2015, as I believe raising awareness is so important. My mum sadly lost her battle with bowel cancer when she was only 50 and she spoke about how important early diagnosis was, as it was too late for her. I have raised almost £5000 for Beating Bowel Cancer since I got involved and I am hoping to add plenty to that this year.”
Michael Wallage, who recently claimed the world title of natural sideburns champion at the 2017 Remington Beard Boss World Beard & Moustache Championships in Texas, is among the confirmed attendees and Decembeard supporters.
“I have been involved in Decembeard since last year and as I knew people in my local community that lost their lives to bowel cancer, Decembeard is something I really wanted to get behind,” Michael said.
Both Simon and Michael are holding events next month with proceeds going to Decembeard. Simon will be holding his at The Woodman on the 11th of November and Michael’s will be at the Thorn Tree Inn in Ripley on the 25th of November.
Michael said: “We’re very charity-focused at these events. It’s nice to be able to give something back.”
Over the last six years thousands of men around the UK have supported the campaign. The funds raised for Beating Bowel Cancer have enabled them to provide information, hope and support to many bowel cancer patients and their families.
Bowel cancer is the UK’s second biggest cancer killer and someone is diagnosed every 15 minutes. Yet if diagnosed early, more than 90% of cases can be treated successfully.
If you’re willing to go grizzly throughout December, dye or decorate your existing face fur or hold a ‘beardy’ event in the local area, you can find out more at: www.decembeard.org
To support Decembeard on social media, please use #Decembeard or @decembeard_uk