Shave off: Manchester medics prepare for moustachioed month to launch Movember in aid of health awareness

By Edward Roberts

Moustachioed men and bearded blokes will be out in full force this month as Movember participants attempt to rival one another in impressive chin fuzz, with a Manchester’s health trust becoming the first centre in the UK to join.

A ‘shave-off’ symbolised the trust’s dedication to the cause as medical staff and patients queued at Manchester Royal Infirmary for a barber to have their stubble, beards and moustaches removed.

Now the men will put their razors away for a month as they grow moustaches to raise awareness for men’s health.

The Central Manchester University Hospitals’ unprecedented involvement was spearheaded by Consultant Urological Surgeon, Richard Napier-Hemy, who has personally supported the campaign for four years.

Prior to his shave, he told MM: “I’m not nervous, I’m really excited.

“The thing with today is it’s about fun, and it’s about raising awareness.

“We won’t be raising money today but we’ll be raising a much needed awareness for the cause.”

This is the 10th year of the Movember campaign that originally started in Australia. It is estimated to have grossed £90million since its incarnation.

The task is for men to refrain from shaving their facial hair for the entire month as a sign of support for men’s health issues.

A representative from Movember, Matt Eagles, said the concept can go a long way to enlightening people to possible health problems.
SPUR OF THE MOMENT: Medical Engineer Craig Reilly decided to shave off his hair and eyebrows as well as his beard

He said: “The average moustache gets about 60 comments and what Movember allows us to do is take those comments and turn them into positive change.

“It all ladders up so that men become more empowered about their health and what they can do about it.”

The launch saw the Chairman of the Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Peter Mount, alongside Dr Napier-Lemy, back the movement in light of events from their personal life.

Both spoke about how their friends and family had encountered a series of prominent health issues that an earlier diagnosis could have simmered.

Dr Napier-Lemy in particular paid homage to his father-in-law, John Nicholls, who died in 2010 as inspiration for bringing Movember to Manchester.

He said: “John was your typical bloke who did not want to talk to the doctor and just put it off.

“It is in his memory that I am here today.”

While Movember is a national scheme, the event had an added emphasis on its importance in relation to Greater Manchester where life expectancy is below the national average.

Chairman Peter Mount told MM that this issue could be tackled through the added awareness that Movember will generate.

He said: “We have to start looking at why some men in places like Altrincham will live into their 70s and 80s whereas some men in North Manchester are living to 60.

“We not only want to create an awareness now, but we want to start preventing the issues.”

Movember originally tackled issues such as testicular cancer, prostate cancer and mental health, but has now stretched to accommodate a vast majority of other troubles.

Ged Devereux, the Senior Strategy Manager for Public Health in Manchester City Council, said that there needs to be a greater weight but on cautionary approaches.

He said: “In the past we’ve said ‘don’t drink, don’t smoke, and do exercise’ but now it’s about doing more than that.  We want to actually send the message now that this is what you can do.’

“There is a cultural problem and a lot of it now is about breaking down the stigma of seeking help.”

The opening was the first of the trust’s events in Manchester as they head to the Etihad Stadium on match day on November 24.

A health bus that regularly circles Manchester will be on site to offer free check-ups for passing fans.

Stephanie Archer, Project Manager on the First-Step Health Bus, said: “The bus is popular but it does differ from venue to venue though.

“We’re eager to make men aware of cardiovascular disease which is the biggest case of premature death in Manchester residents.”

The campaign is hoping that passing fans will accept the movement just as hospital staff did today.

In a spur of the moment decision, Medical Engineer Craig Reilly (pictured above) decided to shave off his hair and eyebrows as well as his beard. In a short 10 minutes he made £300 towards the cause.

Mr Reilly, 29, said: ‘Since it’s for a good cause I decided to go for it.

“I told my girlfriend that I’m going to do it and even though I’ll look like an idiot she supports me because it’s Movember and it’s a great charity.”

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