A firefighter from Cornwall has stressed the importance of “getting people to talk” about men’s mental health as his team rounded off the month with a third Movember-inspired fundraiser and raised thousands for the cause.
Graham Smith and his colleagues at Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service have raised over £15,000 since they started crowdfunders in aid of the annual event four years ago as Movember aims to raise awareness of men’s health issues, including mental health, and encourages people to show support by growing their facial hair throughout November.
After a 24-hour danceathon in 2021, which saw them become the “top raising” fire station in the country, this month the crew in Liskeard, Cornwall, have drummed up more than £3,000 through a charity rugby game, quiz night, and a “Mo Fest” mini-festival with live music at their community fire station on Saturday.
“It was fantastic, a great time was had by everyone,” Mr Smith, 41, told the PA news agency.
“Mo Fest (was) the pièce de résistance.
“(When) we all jump off the fire truck and we’ve all got moustaches and people are like, ‘What on earth is going on here? Are we stuck in the 70s or something?'”
“It’s not all about the money for me, it’s just raising awareness and getting people to talk.”
Mo Fest was complete with food and drink as well as three bands local to Cornwall, Devil Rain, Rudh and The Mighty Revz, who played for free.
While the crew were still on call and “available for shouts,” staff from a local radio station were able to set up a stage for the performers and help prepare the station for over 100 people.
The profit from ticket, food, and drink sales saw them raise over £1,000 for Movember on the night.
“It’s more about getting the community involved and actually having something good and fun for them to go and achieve… to and come and take part in,” Mr Smith said.
“People come and enjoy themselves and ultimately raise a bit of money for Movember and push the Movember message because they do some cracking work.”
Mr Smith has taken on personal crowdfunders for Movember over the years, including a 42-mile walk and a challenge this year where he has taken an ice bath each day of November, increasing the time spent in the bath by 15 seconds each day.
On Saturday November 26, he was up to eight minutes, 15 seconds in the bath.
“It provides people with a little entertainment,” Mr Smith said.
“I’ve been making videos while doing it, some time lapses, and the donations have been coming in from that (too).”
Mr Smith said he first wanted to fundraise for the cause when a family member died from a brain tumour four years ago.
He also explained that a member of the team at the fire station completed suicide in 2021, prompting him to realise “it is vital that people are made aware of the struggles people have with mental health.
“I think it’s about people having the confidence to speak to people and making that initial conversation with someone about mental health struggles,” he said.
“It’s not an easy conversation to have at all.
“If we can help just one person, that’s the most important thing.”
To find out more about the crew’s Movember work, go to: https://movember.com/t/Cornwall-FRS?mc=1