Health

Thousands of moustaches face the chop as Movember ends

Image caption Merv Hughes' moustache is an inspiration to many

Over the last 30 days or so they've appeared silently on the faces of tens of thousands of men across the country.

They are known as Mos - or moustaches to the uninitiated - and they have turned November into Movember.

They've been grown to raise money for - and awareness of - prostate cancer.

But as Movember draws to a close, it will be hair today and gone tomorrow when the razors come out and the moustaches disappear.

The idea for Movember was hatched in Melbourne, Australia in 2003.

Taking their inspiration from the pink ribbon breast cancer awareness campaign, a group of friends decided to grow moustaches for the month of November, partly for fun and partly to raise awareness of issues around men's health.

Within a few years the campaign had exploded worldwide.

Powered by social networking and a slick website, Movember spread from Down Under to include New Zealand, Canada, the USA and Ireland.

The UK got in on the act in 2007 when around £1m was raised for the main beneficiary, The Prostate Cancer Charity.

Image caption Mike Orchard of Froxfield hoped he'd pulled off a "Clark Gable"

This year more than 110,000 people have registered on the website and so far they've raised around £6.1m, although the charity believes that the final figure could be closer to £10m.

The rules are simple.

You start with a clean shaven face on November 1st, and you don't shave your top lip until November 30th.

There are no beards, no goatees and no joining up sideburns with a 'tache.

The Clark Gable

Sports stars, celebrities and politicians have all been sporting moustaches, but it is very much a grass roots movement.

Mike Orchard of Froxfield in Hampshire has been growing what he hopes is a sophisticated Clark Gable affair after being introduced to the world of Movember by a friend.

"There are a bunch of us around the village doing it.

"We have a mutual support group where we get around and have a good laugh at each other.

"Generally speaking, most people react with horror, but when you explain, they get it."

Mike's wife Frances is not so impressed however.

Image caption Christian Heap has gone for a biker's handlebar

"Her most coherent remark has been she can't wait for November to be over!"

The Hairy Biker

Christian Heap is another convert.

He's gone for a big handlebar effort, releasing his inner biker.

"It's pretty fair to say the first two weeks, I was thinking what am I doing?

"I was really uncomfortable with it.

"Then the next 10 days you get into it but the last three or four days I've been dying to get rid of it.

"My wife Nicky is looking forward to the 1st of December more than me."

It's all for charity, mate

Movember has proved to be a huge boost to The Prostate Cancer Charity both in terms of a sudden surge in their income as well as raising awareness of the disease among notoriously hard to reach men.

"We can get to guys in their 30s and 40s in a way that has just not been possible," says Mark Bishop, the charity's director of fundraising.

"This is a movement for men, rather than a campaign.

"250,000 men are living with prostate cancer each year; 10,000 will die each year.

"Men are acting proactively around their health in a way we've not seen before.

"The truth is many guys find it tough to take health messages on board, particularly when it's about down below."

So after a month of itchyness, ridicule and the uncomfortable feeling that people are staring, thousands of men are now preparing to shave off their moustaches.

And who knows, next year - if the BBC is willing to put me on air with a 'tache - I may even be one of them.

If you have any queries about prostate cancer, call The Prostate Cancer Charity's confidential Helpline 0800 074 8383 which is staffed by specialist nurses and open from 10am to 4pm Monday to Friday and Wednesdays from 7 - 9pm

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