Footballers Viv Anderson, Matt Murray and Joleon Lescott are among the famous names who have donated prized possessions that inspire strength to our Stronger Knowing More exhibition at the Simmer Down Festival this weekend, raising awareness of black men's increased risk of prostate cancer and the need to get talking about it.
A replica Olympic torch, a 14-year-old football shirt, and a collection of VHS tapes – these are just a few of the personal items that will be on display as part of a unique exhibition in Birmingham this weekend, all in aid of our Stronger Knowing More campaign.
The prized possessions from black men and women who have been affected by prostate cancer – including former England footballers Viv Anderson and Joleon Lescott – were chosen because they inspire strength in their owners and will be on show at the Simmer Down Festival in Handsworth Park on Sunday.
Coinciding with Ethnic Minority Cancer Awareness Month, the exhibition aims to get people talking about the most common cancer in men and take action – particularly among the black community.
"During my time at Wolves, it didn’t matter how nervous I was before a match: as soon as I put on my shirt, I felt like I could take on anything," says former Wolverhampton Wanderers player Matt Murray, explaining why he chose to display his goalkeeper's top from the play-off final-winning match against Sheffield United in 2003 (pictured above).
"I hope this shirt brings others the strength and courage it brought me during that memorable match."
Other celebrities donating items at this weekend's exhibition include actor Danny John-Jules (pictured below, who's donating a pink biker outfit), former Charlton Athletic manager and England defender Chris Powell (a glass trophy awarded for manager of the year) and former Birmingham City captain Michael Johnson (a Jamaica international football shirt).
"Our exhibition will showcase stories of strength from celebrities, men living with prostate cancer and families who have lost loved ones to the disease," says Tony Wong, Prostate Cancer UK’s Men at Risk Programme Manager.
"As a black man myself, I'm all too aware of the long-standing taboos that surround prostate cancer within our communities. Too many men continue to let pride get in the way of their health and it’s putting their lives at risk."
It's not clear why black men face a higher than average risk of prostate cancer but it is widely thought that genetics could be an underlying factor. One in four black men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime and one in 12 will die from the disease.
"We’re calling on black men everywhere to find the strength to overcome any embarrassment and find out about their prostate cancer risk," says Tony. "If prostate cancer is caught early it can be successfully treated: a two-minute chat with your GP could save your life."
The Stronger Knowing More exhibition will be open from 12.30pm to 7.20pm at the Simmer Down Festival, with our Specialist Nurses on hand to provide information to anyone with questions or concerns about the disease.