Legendary Star Wars actor, Dave Prowse and Magic FM DJ, Neil Fox, have teamed up with The Prostate Cancer Charity and Marks & Spencer to battle the 'dark side' of the most common cancer in men for Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.
Prowse and Fox have come together to share their experience of the disease and to support the cause, by appearing in a striking set of adverts which will be on display in over 300 M&S stores across the country in an attempt to raise awareness of the disease.
Prostate Cancer Awareness Month aims to bring this disease - which kills one man every hour in the UK - further out into the open. Under the banner of 'out of the blue' the Charity is encouraging people to be aware of the disease, which when diagnosed can hit men like a bolt from the blue.
Speaking of his involvement, Dave Prowse, who played Darth Vader in the original Star Wars Films, explains: "We mortals can be extremely optimistic, believing that bad things, such as cancer, just aren't going to happen to us. I was the same - even though my brother had had prostate cancer, I just didn't realise I was at risk too. I thought it just wouldn't happen to me.
"When I was diagnosed with prostate cancer it really hit me out of the blue. Luckily for me my cancer was caught early so that this year I can lead the charge against the 'dark side' of prostate cancer. I hope my face in Marks & Spencer stores will help to get more men thinking about their health.
"Don't let prostate cancer catch you unawares - find out what to look for and keep ahead of the game - and remember, the force will be with you every step of the way!"
TV and Radio star Neil Fox has experienced firsthand the devastating effect prostate cancer can have when he lost his father ten years ago. He explains: "Prostate cancer hit my family out of the blue when my Dad was diagnosed. Although he had known something was wrong for a while, nothing could have prepared us for the news that he had cancer. I can't help thinking if he'd known more about the disease he might still be here today.
"It is so important that all men are aware of the risks so others don't find themselves in the same situation. I hope that many people will join the charge and visit their local M&S store to show their support for the 10,000 men like my dear Dad who die from this disease every year."
As well as helping the Charity to raise awareness of the disease, through the nationwide campaign which also features a selection of real life people affected by the disease. M&S are helping to raise funds throughout March will be donating 10 per cent of the retail selling value of a specially selected range of M&S' Blue Harbour shirts* between 1-21 March.
Pin badges and bottle openers will also be available in store throughout the month.
Speaking of the campaign Owen Sharp, Chief Executive at The Prostate Cancer Charity, said: "Our partnership with M&S is priceless. It extends our presence into communities, giving us a platform to reach people on the High Street we could not hope to achieve without them. As well as raising funds, we know from the many calls to our Helpline signposted by literature in M&S, how important it is to enabling us to reach men and their families.
"I would like to thank M&S for their continued support - as well as to Dave and Neil for taking part in this campaign. I hope that men, and women who often tend to choose their wardrobe, head to their local store and show their support for the 250,000 men living with this disease."
For the first time, supporters can also text "BLUE" to 70007 to donate £3 and receive an information pack on the campaign from the Charity.**
Richard Gillies, Director of Plan A, CSR and Sustainable Business at M&S, said: "Many men don't like thinking about their health and Prostate Cancer Awareness Month is key to changing this mindset. We encourage our customers to get involved this month and help make a contribution to saving the men in their lives."
There are numerous ways for people to show their support, from staging an information day, taking part in a Day of Action or holding a personal 10,000 challenge in support of the 10,000 men who die from prostate cancer a year.
*Blue Harbour polo shirts and rugby jerseys are excluded.
**(Texts are charged at £3 plus one standard network rate text)