CHARITY BID: Baring our bottoms for bowel cancer

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Mutton Chop Mick has taken on a new challenge – baring his backside for all to see in a bid to beat bowel cancer.
Bearded Michael Wallage, of Oak Avenue in Ripley, is no stranger to the spotlight having competed in hundreds of beard contests around the globe. But this time he’s not showing off his facial hair – he’ll de donning a mankini in the town’s Market Place to raise cash for charity Beat Bowel Cancer. 
The 55-year-old was inspired to fundraise after close friend Sean Wilmot lost his dad to bowel cancer four months ago. Sean, landlord of the Thorn Tree pub in Ripley, along with Iain Gibson, Brian Harris and of course Mick, teamed up to brainstorm ideas.

Mick said: “The other chaps have all been growing beards for the month with the plan to shave them off to raise cash in January. I do definitely have the beard, but had no intention of shaving it off due to my competing, so I thought we could come up with something else.

“Sean happens to have seen a picture online of naked men decorating a Christmas tree, and that was the source of our inspiration. 
“We decided to do something similar however, not totally bare all.”

After much discussion, the bearded team decided they would aim to recreate the picture, wearing only mankinis. The group will stand in the centre of Ripley and pose around the town tree from 7.30am on December 30. 
“We just wanted to do something that was fun and quirky but that would have a real impact – and hopefully get people digging deep to support such a worthy cause which is close to all of our hearts, especially Sean’s,” said Mick.

“I can’t say I’m thrilled about baring my bum to all, but it is for the best possible reason.

“So many people notice problems, but fail to visit their doctor due to embarrassment or fear. But what people don’t think about is, the quicker it is detected, the more likely they are to survive. People need to put aside their feelings of shame or embarrassment and just go get checked out – we hope our campaign will help this, and ultimately help save lives.

“But what better way to promote this message than to practice what we preach and put aside our own feelings of anxiety to showcase our bodies.”

For Mick, this really will be out of his comfort zone. The body-shy bearded chap, has not felt comfortable with his weight for many years after an accident.

He worked as a HGV driver for 28 years but after a near-fatal crash in 2004, he was left with severe injuries and unable to work. He underwent nine operations in an attempt to save his leg, which was broken in 13 places. He will never have full function in his leg due to his injuries.

He said: “It sounds daft but growing my facial hair really motivated me and gave me something to work towards.

“I am aware that people think it is an odd thing to do, but it has made me happy and gives me a sense of worth.

“It’s also very sociable. The bearded community are very accepting and you meet people from all walks of life. It’s an eclectic group that I love being a part of. And all of them are backing this great cause.

“We hope as many of you as possible will come down to the Market Place on the day to support us – although we can’t promise a good view.

“This awful disease affects so many lives and we just want to do our bit to help put a stop to that.”

All proceeds raised will go to Beating Bowel Cancer. Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK today, affecting around one in 19 women and one in 14 men.

According to Cancer Research UK, there are now more than 41,900 new cases of bowel cancer being diagnosed every year. For more information or to make a donation, visit