Eastbourne gardeners urged to watch their backs

Michelle Baker, CEO of the Myfanwy Townsend Melanoma Research Fund, and skin specialist Siva Kumar
Michelle Baker, CEO of the Myfanwy Townsend Melanoma Research Fund, and skin specialist Siva Kumar

A Sussex charity has enlisted the help of eight celebrity gardeners, three key horticultural organisations and 170 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 all 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 at Hillier Garden Centre Eastbourne.

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 per cent 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.

With the support of Mr Siva Kumar and his team from the MASCU (Melanoma and Skin Cancer Unit) at Queen Victoria Hospital, the charity is holding a number of free skin check clinics around the South East where people can have worrying moles and blemishes checked by specialists.

Hillier Garden Centre Eastbourne, located in Stone Cross, will be hosting a skin check clinic on Saturday (May 20) from 10am-3pm. You can book a free appointment via www.melanoma-fund.co.uk/wyb

Bookings are available on a first come first served basis and places are limited.

The team at the store 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 its fight to eradicate melanoma – for good!