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Movember: How these men are in for a very hairy time

It's the charity craze that's grown on thousands of blokes. Here, four tell Kerry McKittrick why they're doing Movember

Soup-strainers, crumb-catchers, mozzers or just plain old moustaches – whatever you want to call them you'll be sure to spot some rather interesting and unusual facial topiary on Northern Ireland's gentlemen over the next few weeks.

Yes, it's the time of year when the otherwise sensible and fashion-conscious male population of the province start to grow their face fuzz for a very good cause.

The yearly Movember event is being held to raise awareness of male illnesses such as prostate or testicular cancer, with blokes across Northern Ireland being sponsored to grow their very own moustaches to help raise funds to tackle these diseases.

Since it was founded in Australia 10 years ago, Movember has been responsible not only for the growth of millions of moustaches around the globe, but for generating millions of pounds towards medical research.

Thanks to money raised by Movember more than £1m worth of research projects into prostate cancer – from improving radiotherapy treatments to developing a new DNV vaccine – are currently under way in both Queen's University and the University of Ulster.

Men taking part are known as Mo Bros and the rules are simple. They must begin November with a clean-shaven face and spend the rest of the month grooming and growing a moustache. The moustache cannot be joined to sideburns or connected on the chin, as both of these are considered beards. And of course, all Mo Bros are expected to conduct themselves as gentlemen for the duration.

And it's not just the boys who get all the fun, as Mo Sistas can sign up to be an inspiration and support to their Mo Bros and commit themselves to raising both awareness and funds. While a Mo Sista might not be able to sport a moustache on their face, they can draw one on their index finger to raise to the lip when a moustache is needed.

As wives and girlfriends across the land bid farewell to their clean-shaven other halves, we talk four local men about their reasons for taking up the challenge.



Vinny Hurrell (31), from Belfast, is a producer of the Nolan Show on BBC Radio Ulster and also presents The Clinic on Blast106 every Sunday evening. He says:

"This year will be my third taking part in Movember. It is male cancer awareness month but I actually started doing it because a female friend of mine was diagnosed with breast cancer.

I know that funds raised during Movember go into research for male cancers but I thought with Mo Bros and Mo Sistas all being in it together that was a good enough reason. I've probably earned about £300 by now.

I'm all for doing something a little bit different to get noticed for charity – I've actually had my testicles checked live on air. Something like that will certainly grab your attention – friends of mine told me they nearly crashed the car when they heard me say: "Now I'm going to roll the testicle between my fingers."

One thing I really don't like is growing the moustache itself. They're very itchy, particularly for me as I have really thick hair – last year I put lots of conditioner in it to stop the itching but it didn't help.

The other thing is that although my hair is blonde, my moustache also has ginger and grey hair in it so it looks very strange. Mine also takes two to three weeks to grow in properly.

I go for the classic straight moustache, though once I tried to do the handlebar but my friends made me shave it off."

Barry Molloy (29) is the captain of Derry City Football Club. He lives in the city and has two children, Ellie (7) and Rossa (4). He says:

"A friend of a friend told me about Movember last year and introduced me to Roco hair salon who were doing a big Movember campaign. I don't think there's anyone these days whose family hasn't been affected by cancer so I signed up to help raise a bit of cash and awareness.

Last year I went for the trucker or handlebar moustache. It looked terrible, but got quite a lot of publicity as we won the cup final at the beginning of November and you could see my moustache in all the Press.

My kids absolutely hated it. They live in England and when I went over for Rossa's birthday Ellie told me that she didn't want me to come back with it on. It was her birthday on December 2 so by the time I went back over I was clean-shaven for her. I've been planning to do Movember for months but I recently found out that a guy in our football league – Gary O'Neill – has been diagnosed with testicular cancer.

Lots of guys got together at the weekend and completed a big cycle from Drogheda to Dublin to raise funds for testicular cancer. This is a great cause and one that the whole league can get behind.

I think everyone should take part in Movember – it's not about taking yourself seriously, it's about raising awareness."

Martin Reilly (35) is the SDLP Mayor of Londonderry, where he lives with his wife Bronagh. He says:

"I'm taking part in Movember for the first time this year. I've thought about it before but this year I'm raising money for Macmillan Cancer Care – that's the mayoral charity I've picked for the year.

I have a personal reason for supporting Macmillan. I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins Lymphoma in 2008. It was a shock diagnosis as I didn't have any symptoms – they just found something in a blood test.

I had chemotherapy and a stem-cell transplant and I got the all-clear on St Patrick's Day 2010.

Macmillan were fantastic in their support the whole way through, they really kept me up to date on what was going on.

I've always been clean shaven so I've never had to do anything like this before.

There's a big movement in Derry this year. A local salon called Roco is supporting all of the Mo Bros by handing out starter packs of shaving kits and the Movember rules as well as a moustache menu to help you choose your style."

Dr Andy Biggart (48) is deputy director of the Queen's University Centre for Effective Education. He lives in Portrush and has two children, Callum (15) and Laura (14). He says:

"I've never done Movember before and I didn't plan to do it until last Sunday. I got hijacked by the Queen's pro vice-chancellor Tony Gallagher on Facebook. Now I'm the School of Education Movember team captain!

There are 12 of us doing Movember – that's most of the male members of the school as it's predominantly female. Queen's is doing a big Movember campaign with more than 160 members. We have already raised £1,500 so we're hoping to get much more.

I'm pleased to say that the School of Education is currently at the top of the Queen's leaderboard for fundraising. We're doing everything we can to spread the word – Tweeting, Facebooking and using as much social media as we can.

I'm even a governor of a couple of schools on the north coast and we've persuaded the principals to give us a plug in their newsletters.

I have no idea how it'll go – I've never been anything other than clean-shaven so I'll be interested in finding out how the moustache looks."

Through thick and thin

The Hitler – also known as the toothbrush moustache is a small, straight style. Charlie Chaplin and dictator Robert Mugabe have also sported them

The Tom Selleck – a full, thick moustache stretching over the entire lip, best remembered on the US actor from TV series Magnum PI

The Hulk Hogan – officially a horseshoe or biker moustache, covering the whole of upper lip with two strips down to the chin on either side of the mouth. Also seen on Axl Rose and Metallica frontman James Hetfield

The Wilhelm II – the handlebar moustache, not often seen in modern times outside Movember. Historical wearers included Wyatt Earp

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