Continuing the legacy for Sally Mitchell

Michelle Baker

01 Jan 2021  |   Michelle Baker

Steve Mitchell lost his wife Sally 10 years ago.  Since this tragic loss, which was a result of melanoma, Steve has gone on to raise over £10,000 for the Melanoma Fund to help save others from experiencing a similar loss.

Sally was only 44 when she passed away on the 17th July 2011 following a long fight with melanoma.  She has never been forgotten by her friends and family and marking a 10 year anniversary, her husband Steve has set himself a rather hefty challenge, to again raise awareness and continue to keep the donations rolling in.

Steve is running the South Coast Challenge on Saturday 4th September, from Eastbourne to Brighton, and is aiming to raise as much awareness as possible.  The route covers 57km over the Severn Sisters with 1300m of climbs to cover. In other terms, it is super hilly!

Steve has run two marathons in Sally’s memory, and he is now taking on his first ‘Ultra’.

We know Harry Townsend, who supported this fundraising from the beginning, would have been really proud of this tribute, having lost his own wife to melanoma, before creating the Melanoma Fund.  Keeping memories alive, creating legacies, and continuing to act to help raise awareness of this preventable disease is so important, and we are proud to be a part of this.

For further information on melanoma, how sun protection and skin checking play such a massive part in the prevention and early detection of this most dangerous form of skin cancer, visit www.melanoma-fund.co.uk.



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Marley and Melanoma Fund partner to keep roofers sun safe

Michelle Baker

01 Jan 2021  |   Michelle Baker

With another heatwave on the way at the end of the month, Marley, the UK’s leading roof system manufacturer, is reminding roofers of the importance of staying ‘Safe in the Sun’, whilst supporting the Melanoma Fund.

Daniel Redfern, Marketing Manager at Marley said, ‘Contractors working for long periods of time outdoors, often in direct sunshine and intense heat, are at risk from sun damage. So, with our Safe in the Sun campaign, we aim to provide useful, no-nonsense advice to make sure all our customers are aware of the potential risks and are properly protected.’

Support for roofers, support for the Melanoma Fund

‘We encourage roofers to cover up, use sunscreen and stay hydrated with the help of our Safe in the Sun kit, featuring a Marley-branded T-shirt, sunscreen, and water bottle – everything you need to stay safe.

‘What’s more, for every roofer requesting a Safe in the Sun kit from our website, we will donate £1 to the Melanoma Fund to help them continue their great work.’

Michelle Baker, CEO, Melanoma Fund said, ‘Those who work outdoors, such as roofing contractors, really are on the front line when it comes to sun damage, including the risk of melanoma. Many can also underestimate the importance of sun protection, so we’re pleased to see Marley taking the issue seriously, giving advice to the industry to ensure workers are educated and encouraged to create better habits.

Get your Safe in the Sun kit

To receive your essential Safe in the Sun kit and support the Melanoma Fund, visit the Marley website – www.marley.co.uk/safeinthesun and register your details – conditions apply.

For further details on Marley’s Safe in the Sun campaign or any of the company’s products, please visit www.marley.co.uk or call 01283 722222. For more information on the Melanoma Fund, please visit www.melanoma-fund.co.uk

ENDS



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Burford Golf Club supports the Melanoma Fund

Michelle Baker

01 Jan 2021  |   Michelle Baker

The ladies of Burford Golf Club attended Lady President’s Day on Tuesday, a great event organised by Jan Hussey. Although the sun really didn’t shine – and at times it was a little cold and windy – spirits were high and the welcome was warm, with the Melanoma Fund attending to raise awareness of skin cancer to members.

Jan chose the Melanoma Fund as her charity for the day, and welcomed Michelle Baker to visit the club to talk to the guests about skin cancer, the Slip! Slap! Swing! sun protection campaign for golf, and why skin checking is so important for all, especially golfers.

Michelle came armed with sunscreen, UV reactive bands, and advice on skincare, explaining exactly why golfers are vulnerable to skin cancer, mainly due to spending many hours out of doors on reflective surfaces, and not being vigilant with the sunscreen!  It was made clear to many that you don’t need to be a sun worshipper to be at risk – standing up playing is similar to laying down baking.

With over 80% attending admitting they have been touched by skin cancer, from BCC to melanoma, those present were astonishingly generous, and as a result, the Melanoma Fund will benefit from more than £1,200 raised from donations and raffle tickets.

Everyone from the charity would like to thank this great club and its members for their generosity – it was a lovely day and one which hopefully created a bit more awareness around sun protection and skin checking.

Getting the club accredited

To add the cherry on the cake, the general manager Guy Stacey was so impressed, he decided to sign the club up as Sun Protection Accredited to the Slip! Slap! Swing! campaign, joining over 500 clubs that wear the badge with pride. A fantastic result to end an enjoyable and beneficial visit to the beautiful Cotswolds.



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How a pair of running shoes saved my life

Michelle Baker

01 Jan 2021  |   Michelle Baker

Daniel Whitaker is not your average human. Following a melanoma diagnosis, which robbed him of his passion, which is running, he is punching back at the disease that nearly took his life by attempting to swim the English Channel. Dan is supporting the Melanoma Fund and here he tells his incredible story.

On 23rd March 2012, two things happened that changed my life forever. My daughter aged 5 was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, and I was diagnosed with Grade 1B malignant melanoma. It was like being hit by two freight trains at once, one in the heart and in the head.

Exercise is important to me, so I look after myself physically, mentally, and nutritionally to ensure I am at my best. I have always been into my running and competing in triathlons, for the last few years in mountain triathlons around the Lake District and Wales, as well as competing in an Iron Man 2011.

The best present ever

For Christmas 2011 I received new trail running shoes from my wife, which were probably the best present I’ll ever receive! When wearing them, I noticed there was itching & rubbing around a raised mole on the top of my foot, which I thought was due to the fit or just the process of wearing them in.

As I really liked the shoes, I kept on trying to ‘wear them in’ over the next few weeks. The mole would not have it by continued itching and then also started bleeding. It then took another form and grew 3 heads, tripled in size forming irregular margins, becoming discoloured and blurred at the edges. This is not normal, I had to do something about it and booked into the GP, with the next appointment being in two weeks’ time.

The worst news

It took just a few minutes into the appointment for the GP to refer me immediately to the dermatologist Dr. Pollock, at Pinderfield Hospital, Wakefield. After inspection, he prioritised me for dissection (minor surgery) the very next day, and although he was busy, fitted me in as his last patient before his two-week holiday.

Although the operation to remove the mole is known as an operation with ‘small margins’ (cut close to the mole for less skin removal), it still however involved over 20 stitches under local anesthetic, so not that minor.

Two weeks later I had a call from Dr. Pollock to hear the worst – the mole was malignant melanoma. As my partner Vicky recalls this moment; “I remember Dan calling me about his cancer diagnosis but at that time we were all consumed, having just received our daughter Anna’s diabetes diagnosis. We were living hour by hour and day by day. Dan had no choice but to just crack on and dealt with his own feelings, as well as emotionally support Anna and me, which was in hindsight incredible”.

The reality of cancer

Dealing with these two bombshells created a new me. I reacted by simply dealing with what was in front of me as looking into the future, looked far too grim. I was gutted, shocked, and couldn’t think straight, yet life carries on.

An hour after the phone call I had an appointment with the GP to remove my stitches. I put the phone down, gathered my wits, and hobbled down to the surgery to discuss the next steps and have the operation progress checked, leaving Vicky to hold the fort.

The next steps were all about future prevention of skin cancer, surgery then Oncology. There was an opportunity to go private via work, however, the surgeon assigned to this operation was off work due to a cycling injury, so I had the operation with the NHS. There was 8 weeks wait which was an anxious time. The ‘not knowing whether there was anything still in my body feeling’ was intense. I just wanted it out – all of it!

It was decided to take larger margins from the mole area, which was obviously more invasive and disfiguring, something you can compare to a shark bite on the foot. Larger margins basically mean, a very large scar by cutting wider around the site of the mole to ensure the removal of any remaining cancer, which could obviously grow back.

I had appointments with the nurse and surgical team to discuss the importance of my recovery, and the usage of the foot, for everyday and sports usage, the importance of physiotherapy, and the option of a skin graft, which in the end was not possible, so I went for surgery, stretch the skin together stitches, and hoped they would take. Nothing was promised and it was a time just spent hoping for the best, but expecting the worst!

More treatment

I also had the lymph nodes checked with an ‘ingruinal node biopsy’ to see if the cancer had spread internally. I took the stance that ‘I would rather know than not’ and therefore have any further medication as needed. This procedure was optional for my grade, and there are side effects from this invasive procedure. Thankfully, following the dissection, it was all clear, which meant the cancer was not destined for other areas of my body.

The surgical margin operation required 70 stitches and unfortunately, the skin died back on the top of my foot. There was nothing for the skin to take to, resulting in a very tight foot due to the scar tissue, creating complications with my everyday movement.

After the surgical procedure, I was referred under the care of Prof. Julia Newton Bishop in the Oncology department at Leeds, St James’s University Hospital. Regular monthly visits to the skin cancer clinics for 5 years were planned. At these appointments, my lymph nodes in my groin were checked as well as other moles reviewed. You just strip to your underwear and get examined! After 5 years, you are expected to be vigilant and report back any changes if they should happen.

The road to recovery

My skin cancer journey required 5 months off work to recover physically and mentally. My family and friends were just amazing and so supportive. We had to plan for my partner Vicky to have time off work to drive and accompany me to the wound clinic for dressing and bandage changes. Believe it or not, these appointments became a highlight – just to get out of the house was a relief.

A memorable part of the journey was having my freedom and independence taken from me as I recovered from the surgery. For two weeks I needed help to get down the stairs etc so, whilst Vicky was at work, we created an area in the lounge for me to sit and stand and pre-prepared meals.

It was so painful to move around, it felt like my foot was wrapped in a very tight bandage and set on fire. Every heartbeat, pulsing in my veins was felt on the top of my foot like a knife stab! It could be very lonely in the house with everyone else getting on with their lives, leaving me to ponder how mine had changed so dramatically. I was glad that the Olympics were on and never had a shortage of friends ring me for daily highlights into normal life.

I vividly remember the day I got my freedom back and could drive and walk around again. I popped down to the supermarket; got a custard slice and a cycling magazine, and then headed to the park by the local lake and sat on the car bonnet, looking over the water, calling my friends to celebrate this milestone – independence and freedom.

On the other side

Although there is always the threat of melanoma returning and other after-effects such as no more running due to my compromised foot gait, node biopsy means sciatica pain if I sit too long, swollen ankles when walking for too long, and a very large scar, I have never been more grateful for life. I appreciate every single day in a more intense way.

As exercise is such an important aspect of my life, I decided to do what I could, and now cycle and swim with a passion, which leads nicely to my next challenge.

Fighting back

To ensure more awareness is raised around melanoma and more understand what to look out for, Daniel is supporting the Melanoma Fund with an English Channel swim. He is currently busy undertaking 6-hour training swims and discovering how to sun protect as well as cold-proof his skin to withstand over 13 hours in the unforgiving water. Find out more and how you can support him to ensure he raises as much as possible to prevent others from having to tell a similar story. Visit just fundraising page HERE



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Amazonians and Gargareans - paddling to victory!

Michelle Baker

01 Jan 2021  |   Michelle Baker

When it comes to a fun day out, nothing tops a dragon boat festival, especially if you’re a member of a competing team.  For the past 5 years, the Melanoma Fund has entered a team into the Bewl Water Dragon Boat Festival, always with the hope of winning, and this could be THEIR year.

On September 4th, from 8.00 am the fun begins. Captained by the charity’s CEO, Michelle Baker, and fitness expert, Emily Stevens, each member will don their warrior outfits, erect a gazebo and get serious!

The team, which has been in training all year (to strengthen those paddle arms and shoulders), was selected not only for their athletic form but for their all-important competitive spirit. From PTs, running coaches, fitness fanatics, to experienced paddlers they are not only banking on a great day of fun, but they are also in it to WIN it!

Welcome the men!

In 2019 ‘The Amazonians’ paddled out in true style, and although they didn’t make the final, they were the fastest all-women crew on the day.  This year, the ladies will be joined by ‘The Gargareans’ a team of ultra-fit fellas who all understand the importance of technique, rhythm, balance, and focus in getting the boat to excel, instead of brute force, a mindset that has seen many a boat capsize!

This is a much-loved video of The Amazonians reacting to a competing boat of men who started laughing at the cox, Emily Stevens’ strategy of counting strokes. Not only did this provide the firey focus it needed to beat the men, but provided memories of a race that will never be forgotten!

Sponsorship

The Amazonians and Gargareans have been kindly sponsored by Jewson, Tunbridge Wells, who also supported the Melanoma Fund in 2018. This support, championed by branch manager, Mark Scott, means that all donations raised go directly to the charity and not for boat hire.  The leading construction firm has also covered the cost for a rehearsal session on the water the evening before, a vital maneuver to help ensure a good time on the day.  Stickers will be displayed on Jewson lorries and in-store in the lead-up to the event, with FREE SunSense sunscreen available to all customers who enter the in-store raffle to win a tool bag filled with goodies.

Fundraising

All crew members have been given a minimum target of £100, helping raise valuable donations for the Melanoma Fund, with many organising their own fundraisers to help secure support.  Each crew member has built their own fundraising page as part of the team, enabling individual donations to the cause. Simply visit the main Just Giving page and search for members to donate personally.

Sharing and supporting

The charity and the crew will be sharing images and videos on the day to help hit the £3,000 target. Your support either by sharing this blog, pledging a donation, or turning up on the day to cheer them on will really help, making a fun day, something that actively impacts melanoma and other forms of skin cancer.  What are you waiting for?

Get involved!

To donate visit https://www.melanoma-fund.co.uk/blog/amazonians-and-gargareans-take-to-the-water  and to find out more about the Melanoma Fund visit www.melanoma-fund.co.uk



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Charity Golf Day – Slip! Slap! Swing! in September

Michelle Baker

15 Jun 2021  |   Michelle Baker

Slip! Slap! Swing! this September at the most entertaining charity golf day of the year, featuring Ryder Cup star Paul Way, and trick shot legend Jeremy Dale, PLUS a day of fantastic golf.

The Melanoma Fund has selected Mannings Heath Golf & Wine Estate for its very first golf day, and our team of event specialists will ensure the day is truly one to remember!

Set on the estates magnificent, 500-acre championship Waterfall course, find out why Gary Player named the 11th hole in his top imaginary 18 holes of the world Take a tour of the Waterfall golf course.

Not your average golf day!

Our aim is not only to raise vital donations for the Melanoma Fund but to offer a day of golf that provides fun, entertainment, and priceless memories to all involved. This will start from the moment you arrive, setting the scene for a day of amazing golf, food, and drink, special guests, invaluable health advice, and lots more…

Mannings Heath Golf & Wine Estate

Hammerpond Road, Mannings Heath, Horsham, West Sussex, RH13 6PG

15th September 2021

Fourball team entry £480

Book Your Team Now

First-class golf, entertainment and lots of fun activities

Jeremy Dale

“Jeremy’s golf show is simply the best I’ve ever seen, I highly recommend him.” Ian Woosnam, 1991 Masters Champion & 2006 Ryder Cup Captain

As the UK’s most innovative trick shot artist, Jeremy must be seen to believed. As a completely ambidextrous golfer, he is able to hit both left and right-handed, and in 2005 finished runner up at the World Golf Trick-Shot Championships. He has entertained golfers in over 30 countries, and we are honoured that he will also host our evening.

Your skin health is important!

So we will be offering 10-minute drop-in appointments for everyone attending.

Our team of surgeons and dermatologists will provide professional and personal advice on your skin health, including tips on how to keep it in tip top condition and prevent any problems in the future.

Paul Way

Paul represented Europe in the Ryder Cup in 1983 and became the second-youngest Ryder Cup player up to that time after Nick Faldo. He had success again in 1985 when Europe captured the trophy which had been in American hands for twenty-eight years. He had an outstanding Ryder Cup record of six wins, two losses, and one halved match.

Paul will bring his coveted Ryder Cup to the event, and will chat with Jeremey, offering unique insight and some exclusive anecdotes, on what it took to be a part of extraordinary golfing history.


Order of Events*

The day will start with a hearty breakfast and some good coffee! Jeremey Dale will get the ball rolling with his award-winning golf show, after which you will enjoy 18 holes on the Waterfall Course. After the final putt is holed, teams will retire to the terrace for a sparkling drink from Manning’s own estate, some skin health advice, and a moment to refresh, before sitting down to enjoy a two-course meal.

Jeremy will host a live auction in aid of the Melanoma Fund, followed by a chat with Paul Way to round off the evening.

9.00am Registration, breakfast, raffle, and driving range practice

10.00am The Jeremy Dale Golf Show

11.00am Pre-golf briefing and buggy allocation

11.30am Golf competition starts

5.00pm onwards Pre-dinner drinks on the Terrace, raffle, skin health checks, followed by a two-course dinner

6.30pm Prizegiving, including presentation of the ‘Harry Townsend Memorial Trophy’, and some words from the Melanoma Fund

8.00pm Live auction followed by after-dinner entertainment hosted by Jeremy Dale with Paul Way

10.00pm Carriages home (see further details below regarding accommodation options)

*Timings are subject to small changes and ‘surprise additions’ on the day. 

Please note that our event is Covid insured, so if we need to cancel all monies will be refunded.

Please let us know if you require an overnight stay.  Accommodation is available on-site in Fuller’s Cottage the nearby Premier Inn, which has two venues in nearby Horsham.  Email HERE for further details and discounted prices.


Book Your Team Now


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Raise the bar – become a sponsor!

We have a range of sponsorship packages available for our event, and can offer bespoke opportunities to support us whilst raising awareness of your organisation or brand before, during and after the event. As well as branding in-situ, you will also be supplied with a quarter-page ad in our event programme. For further details email us at info@melanoma-fund.co.uk and we can talk you through these as well as discuss other opportunities:


Title sponsorship:   £2,000

  • 1st – 18th hole
  • The Jeremy Dale Golf show
  • Branding across all event marketing materials and charity social media channels

Hole sponsorship    £250 – per hole

Buggy sponsorship  £200 – per buggy

Putting green sponsorship £400


Prizes

We are also seeking a range of items and experiences to place in our raffle, silent and live auctions on the night.If you feel you would be able to help in some way or would like to discuss sponsorship opportunities, please contact our team on 07989 551 046 or email info@melanoma-fund.co.uk


Cancer... better the devil you know?

Michelle Baker

09 June 2021  |   Michelle Baker and Dan Frith

What happens when a surgeon receives cancer diagnosis? Does fully understanding the pathway make it easier, or more daunting?

Daniel Frith is a consultant trauma & emergency general surgeon at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington. Here he explains how melanoma caught him off guard, offered him a new perceptive, and set him on a crazy challenge.

“I have always been a ‘sun seeker’ and during my teens and early 20’s traveled extensively, seeking adventure in warmer climes. As with most of Generation X, during the 80’s I didn’t think too deeply about my health, and when it came to sun protection, only bothered with sunscreen at the very beginning of holidays, simply to avoid the ‘inconvenience’ of sunburn before tanning.

I remember vividly flying off to Majorca at the tender age of 14, and in a fit of the maverick, decided not to bother with sunscreen for the first 3 days. This resulted in pustular blisters on both my shoulders, which were both painful and unsightly. Little did I know that this incident would come back to haunt me 30 years later.

Fast-forward…

At the start of lockdown in 2020, I noticed that a mole on my left shoulder appeared to be quite a bit darker than I remembered it to be. Although I believed it had always been there, I decided to get it checked, not really registering that it could be cancerous, but understanding from my training that ‘change’ in a mole is a signal to act.

I am of course aware of melanoma; a relatively rare, but also deadly form of skin cancer, and one that is certainly best caught early. Looking back at this time, I think I was caught off guard as the examples we study are often late-stage cases, with pronounced signs (large, bleeding, black, crusty) rather than the subtle, ‘innocent looking’, early cases (small, slightly irregular) as was mine.

Nevertheless, I diligently sent a photo of my lesion to my GP and after this, to quell an unexpected rising panic of ‘what ifs’, I went for a run. It was on the run that I got thinking about the probable diagnosis, and slowly but surely, looking at the facts staring me in the face, the realisation struck me that I was heading for trouble.

Three weeks later I was called in for an excision biopsy, the histology results of which took 2 weeks to return. By then I was fully prepared and expecting a diagnosis of melanoma, however my greatest concerned was the stage I was at. Melanoma grows down and relatively quickly, and can get into tissues, bones, and lymph nodes within weeks or months, which makes treatment nearly impossible, so the depth of the growth is everything.

During this period, I gathered all the evidence I had, and finding a photo from holiday 18 months earlier, I discovered to – my surprise – that I was mistaken; there had not been a mole there previously, it was a new lesion that I had not recognised. It seemed that subconsciously I had got used to the mole and failed to notice it growing.

Although the results came back as I had expected, I was relieved to be told the melanoma was only 1mm thick, and had only a 20% chance of metastasis, due to the high mitotic rate (a measurement of how fast tumour cells are dividing). However, by this time I had feared the worst, so this low risk of spread seemed comparably tolerable.

Three weeks later I underwent a ‘wider excision surgery’ and axillary lymphadenectomy. The surgery was trivial, my concern was fixed on the outcome. My surgeon had promised to call me if there was any good news, therefore, when I received a message that my histology result was back and did not hear from him, I assumed the worst. This being that the glands were positive, and he was waiting for the MDT meeting to plan chemotherapy.

Life changing

I cannot stress enough how a diagnosis of cancer, whatever type it is, impacts your life. Your world goes into a tailspin, your needs get compartmentalised into priorities (family, friends, and treatment) and nothing else matters, but painfully, life must go on. You need to work, be a dad, husband, be strong, dependable, pay the bills, and function.

When my surgeon eventually called, I was sitting in the park with my 15-month-old daughter. Taking a deep breath, I answered, expecting a frank talk about chemotherapy. So, when he advised that my lymph glands were negative, I just sat there and cried. I simply couldn’t speak. The relief was palpable, and I shared this with my daughter who had no idea about why daddy was so emotional, or the massive relevance alternative news could have made to her life.

Looking back on this, my perception of life and time have changed irrevocably. I have always loved life, but now I see it through different eyes. The psychological trauma created by facing death is very personal and deep, and it highlighted to me that nobody never ever gets cancer, until they get cancer.

It also made me realise that I was lucky. I had the support of friends and a loving family, I was financially secure and in good hands. Cancer is never easy and a great leveler, but to add it to a life that is already complicated or fractured, solitary or with other health concerns, then it becomes painfully difficult.

Taking skin cancer seriously

Further to my experience, I believe that the NHS is well placed to treat presentations of melanoma which are relatively easy to treat surgically. However, there is a lack of understanding and recognition of the signs of early disease. In addition, the cancerous potential of UV light is highly underestimated, compared to smoking, alcohol, and obesity.

This may be to do with the thought that skin cancer can simply be ‘cut out’, which is not true. Even forms such as basal cell carcinoma (BCC) or squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) which are at epidemic levels on a global basis, can deeply scar both emotionally and physically and can potentially spread. There is no ‘just’ in skin cancer, particularly melanoma, rates of which are rising rapidly in the UK.

The good news is that skin cancer, unlike some other types of the disease, is mostly preventable and so obvious if it is looked for, however, most of us simply do not. When was the last time you got a sunburn and shrugged it off, or bothered to carry out a full-body skin check, or even educated yourself on what to look for?

Luckily, my training provided me with the intuition and insight to act fast, however even I nearly missed the signs, which is easy to do. This made me realise on a deeper level, how many lives are avoidably lost or destroyed, simply due to lack of awareness and bad habits.

Making a difference

When touched by cancer many do something positive to counteract the experience, and I am no different. As my diagnosis was linked with that severe sunburn during my youth, I researched charities actively creating awareness of this issue, and discovered the Melanoma Fund; a small but passionate charity, which runs three national prevention campaigns, including the Outdoor Kids Sun Safety Code.

Designed for sports coaches and outdoor activity leaders, their mission is to enhance the provision of sun protection to primary-aged children, highlighting the importance of sun protection at an early age, helping create good habits that can last into teens and beyond.

They also run Watch Your Back! a campaign for gardeners and horticulturists and Slip! Slap! Swing! for all in golf, both not just reminding high-risk groups on how and why to sun protect, but how to skin check and educating on what to look out for.

Coniston2Coniston

With my cause established, my next task was the activity. Having been previously involved in physical endurance events, I felt a serious test of mental and physical resilience would reflect on the threat I had experienced, and help raise funds, with the support of the friends that have been there for me throughout my life.

Inspired by a fundraiser I completed in 2013 called ‘My House 2 Your House’ (a five-day cycle, swim and run from London to Amsterdam for Parkinson’s), I developed the idea of ‘Coniston2Coniston’, a challenge starting and finishing in the same place in the Lake District, featuring a 6k lake swim, 45k hill cycle, 11 km kayak, and 27k fell run.

So here I am today, ‘alive and kicking’ supported by a team of 15 close friends, pushing my body to crazy extremes, to help raise awareness of a cancer that could have so easily taken my life, but at the same time could so easily have been avoided, and for that, I am profoundly grateful.

Join us

Just one blistering sunburn, especially in childhood, will double the risk of melanoma in later life – and I am proof. Our aim is to raise £20k to help ensure ‘outdoor loving’ children develop healthy sun protection habits and avoid becoming a ‘14-year-old me’.

To donate and find more about the team, the cause, and our challenge, visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/coniston2coniston



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Amelia joins the Melanoma Fund

Michelle Baker

08 June 2021  |  Amelia Aves

I’ve recently started working as a marketing assistant at the Melanoma Fund, supporting Michelle Baker, the charity’s CEO. With my interest in medicine, I couldn’t have wished for a better placement!

I would like to inspire others who are looking for summer work to approach their local charity, helping with a great cause, whilst generating some valuable experience.  Here is my story…

I am currently in year 11 at Tunbridge Wells Girls Grammar School (TWGGS), having finished my GCSE exams in May. Like many of my friends, I had been looking for a summer placement and some work experience preferably in the medical field; a career I am keen to pursue in the future. I have always been interested in paediatrics, but have become interested in oncology after recently attending webinars on World Cancer Day and other virtual work experience placements.

I find the research that is going into innovative cancer treatments fascinating and would love to be a part of this in the future.

First steps

I heard from a post on Facebook that the Melanoma Fund was looking for some summer admin support with their prevention campaigns, and thought this sounded like the perfect opportunity to do some beneficial and relevant work for a local charity. I already knew about the Melanoma Fund after listening to a BBC radio show that Michelle Baker, the CEO, was a guest on, where she discussed the dangers of sunburn, and how important it is, in particular, to protect children from the sun.

After speaking to Michelle and then looking into the campaigns on the website, it looked like the ideal role for me, and after being offered a position, was excited to start my first official work placement, which commenced on the 24th May.

First day

My first task was to learn about the charity and its objectives, looking at each campaign, how it is constructed, and how it delivers.  I was then asked to call garden centres and nurseries to talk to them about the ‘Watch Your Back! campaign (of which they were existing supporters) to discuss the charity’s new Sun Protection Accreditation scheme.

Despite having researched the campaign and having been given a brief, I admit I was nervous before making the calls, however after some key advice from Michelle, after the first few contacts, I felt much more at ease and confident in what I was doing.

Useful tips

After working with Michelle as my mentor, I picked up some useful tips on my ‘phone voice’ and how important it is to smile and feel engaged when speaking even if the recipient can’t see you, as they can tell you’re happy and interested from the tone of your voice, which helps make them far more receptive to what you are saying.

Later that week, I was introduced to the charity’s brand new database, held on the Arkflux site. I found this fascinating as I’ve been on the receiving end of many of these CRM systems, but had no idea how it actually worked from the sender’s point of view! It was so fascinating to see how easy and efficient CRM systems make it for charities and organisations to communicate with stakeholders and customers, and I have enjoyed carrying on working with this database, discovering how it works, and helping to update the hundreds of contacts for each of the three campaigns various lists.

The OK Kids!

My next task was to work on the Outdoor Kids Sun Safety Code campaign, again calling stakeholders to talk about the new Sun Protection Accreditation scheme and – now that I have learnt how – updating the Arkflux system with new contacts and numbers that I generated through these calls. I definitely felt much more confident on the phone, and found that I didn’t need to rely on a script or notes as much, as I had hands-on experience from my Watch Your Back! calls.

I also started work on the Big Giveaway, contacting local children’s sports clubs and holiday clubs to offer them free Sun-Sorted! sun protection kits, something that they were very excited and grateful to hear about. I found this perhaps the most rewarding of the tasks I have done so far, as I have been online finding names of different clubs and groups and then calling them myself to offer this to them, and their reactions were so positive and inspiring!

Over the last couple of days, I have started preparing the information that is sent out to companies and groups who sign up to become Sun Protection Accredited within each of the charity’s three campaigns, ensuring that they all receive a leaflet and window sticker to put on display, advertising their commitment to sun protection. I hope to see some of these when I’m out and about!

Next steps

Next week I will start to network with golf clubs, promoting the charity’s Slip! Slap! Swing! campaign, something I am keen to explore more about. It is great that the charity has such diverse sectors, all however chosen for the fact that they talk to people who are at heightened risk of melanoma and other forms of skin cancer.

Knowledge is king!

Since starting my work with the Melanoma Fund, I have noticed that, although I have always been careful with my skin in the sun (being fair and red-haired means I burn very easily!), I have definitely been applying sunscreen more regularly and ensuring I do this even if I don’t intend to be outside for very long. I was shocked to read the statistic that ‘one blistering sunburn in childhood doubles the risk of melanoma’ and, from speaking to my friends, many of them were too.

I think a lot of people, particularly in my age group, don’t really consider the full consequences of skin cancer and think of sun protection as prevention from ‘getting a tan’, and sunburn as being a ‘temporary problem’, which it absolutely isn’t.  This is something the Melanoma Fund is doing a great job raising awareness about, by getting young people engaged and educated around the subject via their Sun-Sorted! quiz, before they start thinking about tanning as a teen.

I am pleased to have gained so much insightful knowledge on the dangers of UV exposure and to be able to share this with my friends and family. I have really enjoyed my first couple of weeks working at the Melanoma Fund and am looking forward to continuing to expand my knowledge through this work throughout the summer.

Thank you for reading my blog post.  I hope that this inspires you to do something similar.

For further information on the Melanoma Fund, please visit www.melanoma-fund.co.uk 



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