DUNDALK GARDAI are changing their faces for men's health as they join the growing numbers around the world taking part in the moustache grow fest that is Movember.
The Gardai, based in Dundalk and North Louth, along with thousands of others in Ireland, are spending the month of November growing moustaches and funds raised in Ireland are directed to programmes run directly by Movember and their men's health partner, Action Prostate Cancer, an initiative from the Irish Cancer Society.
Eighteen ' Mo Bros' from stations in Dundalk, Blackrock, Carlingford, Omeath, Dromad and Hackballscross are taking part in the month-long moustachegrowing spectacle, which is the biggest number ever to take part. One of the organisers, Gda. Kevin Cleary, said he had been encouraging his colleagues to take part since last year when around 10 officers did Movember.
He said: 'I got involved last year because my uncle had been diagnosed with prostate cancer.
' Thankfully, he is recovering now and while there was a good response from the lads in 2011, there has been a really great response this year, with 18 taking part'.
Gda. Cleary, who is originally from Mullingar, said the Movember initiative is a ' good way to raise awareness of men's health in general and prostate cancer in particular'.
He said: ' This is a curable disease, if only men would talk to their GPs and get tested. Men are more reluctant than women to talk about their own health and Movember is trying to change that.
'Everyone knows someone who has cancer and it's a good way to raise awareness and funds at the same time'. Gda. Cleary said he is delighted with the response from his colleagues, including those who are not growing upper- lip hair, and from the public. He said: 'Everyone has been very supportive of it and there are collection boxes in all the stations taking part so people can donate to the charity if they would like.
'Last year, we raised over €2,000 for Movember and we hope to do even better this year. Dundalk people are very generous and we are getting good support'.
Gda. Cleary said there are already a couple of Tom Selleck-style tashes around the station and ' no- one is doing too badly'. He said the Mo Bros come from across the ranks and include four sergeants - Brendan Keane and Ger Collins in Dundalk; Dromad-based PJ Maguire and Sgt. Mick Kelly from the scenes of crime unit.
There will be a shaveoff event at Kennedy's, Carrick Road, on November 29, when Gardai will be stripped of their tashes in a final fundraising drive for the charity. There will be lots of spot prizes and raffles on the night.