ASBESTOS campaigners are urging South Tynesiders to get the hairy habit to help beat a killer disease.
Next month sees the launch of Moustaches for Mesothelioma, a national campaign aimed at raising research cash into the terminal condition, caused by exposure to asbestos fibres.
People are being encouraged to grow or wear a moustache, in order to boost research into mesothelioma, which has already claimed many lives in South Tyneside and the rest of the North East.
One of the first people agreeing to get hirsute is ex-shipyard worker Bob Cusworth, who has long campaigned on behalf of asbestos victims.
Mr Cusworth, 76, of Ribble Walk, Jarrow, who received £5,000 compensation for the asbestos-linked lung condition pleural plaques, said: “I’ve never had a moustache before and have always been clean-shaven.
“But this seems like a very good cause and I’m willing to give it a try.
“I hope to grow a moustache in March and get sponsorship from family and friends.”
Mr Cusworth, who posed with his hairless upper lip for a Gazette photographer before his hairy charity bid, added: “I would encourage other people to grow or wear a moustache next month.”
Chris Knighton, founder of the Mick Knighton Mesothelioma Research Fund (MKMRF), who received an MBE in 2012 for her work in supporting research into the disease, said: “I think that it’s great that Bob Cusworth is backing us.
“He’s always been a great asbestos campaigner and we thank him for his support.
“We are asking people to support those with mesothelioma by growing or wearing a moustache with pride and take part in our Moustaches for Mesothelioma in March 2014 Campaign.
“This national fun event is one everyone can join in – it doesn’t matter whether you are five years old or 95 years old, you will be raising awareness and supporting those who are living with mesothelioma.
“Supporters may want to grow or wear a moustache and raise awareness at work, school, at dance class, at the gym, or local football, rugby or cricket club or even the local pub.”
For details about Moustaches for Mesothelioma, visit www.mkmrf.org or http://www.justgiving.com/MKMRFMoustaches-for-Meso.