Today’s guest of honour, Errol McKellar, is working tirelessly to make more people aware of the dangers of prostate cancer.
The letters M.O.T. can strike fear into any driver on an annual basis, but in a quiet pocket of East London, one hugely motivated motor mechanic has been tirelessly marrying up his trade with accelerating the message about Prostate Cancer UK.
Errol McKellar, also a youth coach at Leyton Orient, will proudly greet this afternoon’s teams on the pitch as part of his guest of honour duties for the charity.
McKellar’s diagnosis with prostate cancer arrived by chance in 2010. Prompted to visit his doctor by his wife to aid his persistent snoring, he picked up a leaflet in the waiting room and discovered he was at a higher than average risk of getting prostate cancer.
He explained: “When I got my results the doctor said to me, ‘Look, your prostate is covered in cancer, you could be dead in six months.’ I broke down. I literally just broke down. I’m not ashamed to admit I really cried.
You imagine going into a room with no light. That’s what it felt like. It felt as if someone had pulled the plug on me. It was a very difficult period and took me a long time to get positive again.
“And my wife, she let me cry and then she turned around and said to me, ‘right, you’ve never quit at anything in your life, so what are you going to do now?’ And that’s when I made this decision to turn this negative thing into a positive. I told myself, I’m going to beat this.”
Almost five years on, the chirpy McKellar, who worked with a young David Beckham in his youth football days and is close mates with comedian and campaigner Russell Brand, has dedicated himself to hammering home the message about a disease that affects one in eight men in the UK, and even more shockingly, one in four black men.
He offers a discount on the price of an M.O.T. in his garage when customers pledge to discuss their prostate cancer risk with their doctor. He remains in touch with many young footballers he’s worked with, offers advice to underprivileged youngsters and supports Prostate Cancer UK in a variety of ways, including signing up Thierry Henry and Jamie Redknapp to Men United the last time he was at Wembley.
He also recruited Jamie’s dad Harry to boss a star-studded Men United squad in a charity match for Prostate Cancer UK on Sunday 31 May when they take on Leyton Orient’s legendary promotion squad from 2005/06 (visit lofcdirect.co.uk for more info).
“I wanted to do something to get the awareness across and raise money, so with all the great contacts I’ve got it made perfect sense to host this football match,” Errol added. “It’s going to be a great day with some great people.”