Local Gardeners urged to Watch their Backs

Hollie Farley, East Sussex County Council

12 June 2017

A Sussex charity has enlisted the help of 8 celebrity gardeners, 3 key horticultural organisations over 180 major garden retail groups to help raise awareness of melanoma; the fastest rising cancer in the UK.

Charlie Dimmock, Alan Titchmarsh, Andy Sturgeon, David Stevens, Toby Buckland,  Anne Swithinbank, David Domoney and Joe Swift are undoubtedly the most recognisable names in horticulture today. They are also all backing ‘Watch Your Back!’ a sun protection campaign for gardeners devised by a Sussex based charity; the Myfanwy Townsend Melanoma Research Fund. 

The campaign is partnered by the Garden Centre Association, the Professional Gardeners Guild and The National Allotment Society and has achieved the support of nearly all the major garden groups, including Haskins, Notcutts, Dobbies and Hillier as well as the larger independents and has just launched locally in Hillier Garden Centres Eastbourne.

So how did they do it?

Harry Townsend, founder of the charity, may be 80 but he has an unstoppable mission, energy and a steady focus and believes that will the right intent, anything is possible. On a small budget, Harry, along with his CEO Michelle Baker, have achieved what many large marketing organisations would be proud of, and that is creating massive awareness and positive impact on a national basis. In convincing over 170 garden centres to feature the Watch Your Back! campaign, the messages of PROTECT, DETECT, PREVENT will reach hundreds of thousands of gardeners across the UK, driving home the message that avoiding sunburn could save your life.

Why did they do it?
Melanoma is the fastest growing cancer in the UK and one of the most dangerous types of skin cancer, which is the most common type of cancer. The campaign, now in its second year, targets all gardeners but specifically men over the age of 50 who are at the highest risk of developing this most dangerous form of skin cancer. Men are 70% more likely to develop the disease, typically on their backs and in areas that are hard to spot, making the warning signs easier to miss, and longer to diagnose.

Free Skin Check Clinic at Be Active 2017
With the support the Bexhill Lions Club, the Myfanwy Townsend Melanoma Research Fund will be at Be Active 2017, teaming up with Mr Siva Kumar and his team from the MASCU (Melanoma and Skin Cancer Unit) at Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead, to run a free skin check clinic where people can have worrying moles and blemishes checked by specialists.

The team will be in The Studio at the De La Warr Pavilion from 10.30am until 2.00pm offering 10 minute appointments. You can book a free slot at the Watch Your Back! campaign website. Bookings are available on a first come first served basis and places are limited.

If you are planning on visiting the Be Active event and simply want to
find out more on the importance of looking after your skin why not pop in and see the team? They will be offering free advice and information and also full sized bottles of Ladival sunscreen (RRP £19.99) in exchange for a small donation, enabling you stock up for the year and the charity to create future impact in their fight to eradicate melanoma – for good!



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