The Pink Ladies are taking their fundraising campaign to a whole new level next month.
The Derry based breast cancer support group will host a ‘tattooathon’ in the Tattoo Lounge in Beechwood Avenue on Saturday July 5.
A ‘tattooathon’ is a new and unique way for charities to raise much needed funds. Those interested in getting a tattoo on their body register and pay an agreed fee; after the tattoo artist covers his costs the rest of the money goes to the Pink Ladies.
The Pink Ladies have set themselves a quota of 150 participants and through word of mouth they have already met over half of their target.
Next month’s ‘tattooathon’ will be very much a family focused event and there will be music from local band ‘Kelly’s Men’ on the day.
Donna Hutton, from the Pink Ladies, is several months pregnant but said, if she could, she would most certainly be getting a tattoo to show her support.
“I love tattoos - I already have nine of them and if I wasn’t expecting a baby I would definitely get one to show my support for the amazing work the Pink Ladies do,” said Donna.
The age of those already registered for the ‘tattooathon’ range from young men and women in their early twenties to men and women in their late sixties.
Michelle McLaren is a long time member of the Pink Ladies. Still in her twenties, Michelle is currently receiving treatment for her second bout of breast cancer.
“I am really tempted to get a tattoo on my head. I’ve lost my hair as a result of the treatment and if I got a tattoo there, it would be well hidden by the time the hair grows back, but I don’t think I am brave enough - I will just wait and see,” she smiled.
Tattoo artist, Mickey Kelly, is the owner of The Tattoo Lounge in Beechwood Avenue and his business has been operating since April this year.
Mickey jumped at the chance to get involved with the Pink Ladies’ ‘tattooathon’ and will be getting a tattoo himself on the day.
“People get tattoos all of the time in remembrance of loved ones or friends who have died from various illnesses.
“Cancer is one of those illnesses which will affect almost everyone at some stage in their lives - I’ve lost loved ones to cancer and I think a tattoo is a wonderful way of showing how much the person meant to you and in the case of the ‘tattooathon’ it’s a fantastic way of raising awareness.”
The only criteria you need to meet in order to take part in the ‘tattooathon’ is that you must be over the age of 18.
“It’s against the law to tattoo anyone under the age of 18 so we have to be strict about that one,” said Mickey.
On the day there will be five tattoo artists busy working through the 150 participants and another local tattoo parlour, Studio 76, is closing for the day so that their tattoo artists can help out.
“Saturdays are the busiest days for any tattoo parlour so for Studio 76 to be giving up their time and their artists is brilliant,” added Mickey.
“I don’t know how many tattoos I have - each and every one of them means something to me and on the day I will be letting my sister tattoo me.
“My sister Amy is only 17 but she is an apprentice and coming on well - I don’t think she knows she’ll be tattooing me but she will when she reads this article,” he laughed.
The Pink Ladies have long been at the fore when it comes to raising awareness of breast cancer and they played a pivotal role in the decision to bring a radiotherapy unit to Derry several years ago.
Donna explained that the reason the Pink Ladies wanted to organise a ‘tattooathon’ was because they wanted to do something different.
“The Pink Ladies have done so much work to raise funds and awareness for breast cancer in Derry but we wanted to refresh how we went about it so it was agreed that we would go ahead with a ‘tattooathon’.
“Tattoos are very popular amongst women in America who have had one or both their breasts removed due to breast cancer.
“Instead of hiding themselves away, these women get the most beautiful tattoos on their chests to cover the scars.
“Some people think it’s crude but that’s ridiculous. Surely we are much more open these days and should be able to be honest and free about our bodies,” said Donna.
Mickey said since qualifying as a tattoo artist almost ten years ago he has had many people with scars come to him to get a tattoo drawn on the part of their bodywhere the scars are.
“A tattoo is a great way of covering up a scar from an operation or a cut and why shouldn’t women who have suffered as a result of breast cancer get a tattoo? If you ask me, I think it’s a great way of changing something extremely negative and as life threatening as cancer and turning it into a positive with a beautiful tattoo that means something very special.”
The Pink Panthers, a cancer support group for men borne out of the Pink Ladies are also involved with the ‘tattooathon’.
“A lot of the men from the Pink Panthers are expressing an interest in showing their support and getting a tattoo.
“The ‘tattooathon’ is not just about raising awareness about breast cancer but we want to raise awareness about men’s cancer too and we want people out there to know that there is help and support - all they have to do is get in contact,” explained Michelle.
The Pink Ladies’ ‘tattooathon’ takes place on Saturday July 5 from 11am to 7pm.
Mickey’s band, ‘Kelly’s Men’ will provide the music on the day and there will be face painting available for children.
If you would like to take part in the Pink Ladies’ tattooathon’ contact Donna Hutton on 02871 281900 or Mickey Kelly 02871 515 330.