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A ‘ridiculous’ campaign to fight skin cancer in gardening

Celebrity gardeners are backing a national sun protection campaign, using humour to fight skin cancer – melanoma, with four of the biggest names in gardening agreeing to look ‘ridiculous’ to help punch the message home.

David Stevens

David Domoney, Adam Frost, Mark Lane and David Stevens will appear in the Watch Your Back! campaign like you’ve never seen them before, to urge people to think twice about their sun protection habits.

The campaign, devised by the Melanoma Fund will feature in over 220 garden centres from May, warning gardeners that ignoring sun protection is simply ‘ridiculous’, specifically  targeting men over 50 who are the least likely to cover up, but are most likely to die from the effects of excessive sun exposure.

Campaign ambassador Alan Titchmarsh says; “This approach may appear light-hearted, but the message is serious. Sunburn can not only triple the risk of melanoma, it looks terrible, so look after your skin, whatever your age.”

Harry Townsend, founder of the Melanoma Fund says; “Sun protection campaigns are in danger of sounding like broken records. We all know the facts, but many, especially men, lack a regular skin care habit and dislike applying sunscreen, so we have decided to give it to them straight: Don’t be ridiculous; remember sun protection when out in the garden this summer.”

Men and Melanoma

Skin cancer is now the most common cancer in the UK and melanoma is the most dangerous type.  It is the fastest growing cancer in men and the second fastest in women, with men 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, leading to a later diagnosis, leading to higher death rates.

Raising Awareness

Melanoma rates in the UK have more than quadrupled over the last 30 years, however many of us still forget to protect, check skin for signs of change, or know what to look out for. This may explain why death rates from melanoma are higher in the UK than in Australia or New Zealand, both of which have the highest incidence in the world.

Mark Lane

Skin health clinic bus tour

The Melanoma Fund is organising a bus tour of major garden centres in the South East during May and June. Surgeons from the Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead and dermatologists from rtwskin in Tunbridge Wells will offer FREE pre-booked appointments for skin checking and skin health analysis, giving out advice, sunscreen and information.

The ridiculous sunflower growing competition

Major garden centres will be urging customers to grow the tallest or biggest sunflower in the UK by retailing packs of our ‘ridiculous’ seeds for a £1 donation.  Prizes include Landmann BBQ’s and a year’s supply of Altruist sunscreen.

Alan Titchmarsh, Charlie Dimmock, Andy Sturgeon, David Stevens, Joe Swift, Adam Frost, David Domoney, Anne Swithinbank, Mark Lane and Toby Buckland have all agreed to help by providing their personal tips on growing giant blooms.

The charity has worked with the Melanoma & Skin Cancer Team at Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead to produce a set of expert sun protection tips, a guide to skin checking and information on how to keep skin healthy, designed especially for all gardeners. Watch Your Back! is partnered with the Garden Centre Association, the Professional Gardeners Guild and The National Allotment Society.  For further details on all the above visit

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