A Derry man who lost his mother to cancer has urged local businesses to get their kit off for a new 2015 Derry Charity Calendar in aid of two “vital” local charities.
Emmette Dillon (26) was inspired by his mother’s courage and the care she received in the final years of her life to organise the fundraising drive in aid of the Foyle Hospice and MacMillan Cancer Care Nurses.
Anne Marie McFadden (nee Dillon) died at the age of just 45 in February this year. She had been battling multiple cancers for several years, and received help and assistance from the Foyle Hospice’s palliative care team nurse Rose Green during that time.
Emmette said his mother was his “best friend” and someone who continues to be a massive inspiration to him.
The Hazelbank native- himself a staff nurse at Ward 42 of Altnagelvin Hospital- said the aim of the Derry 2015 Naked Charity Calendar was to highlight how vital the Hospice and MacMillan are for local people who are diagnosed with cancer, and to raise funds for them.
“We want to keep it light and enjoyable to be part of,” he said. “The calendar itself is a bit of craic, but there is a serious human element too. Nobody knows what’s coming round the corner.
“The support so far has been unbelievable, it has been phenomenal and a testament to the Derry people that time and time again they get behind worthwhile causes.
“Cancer is something that has knocked on many a door. People assume when you get cancer you will be taken care of, but there isn’t that safety net there. There are people losing homes, livelihoods because of it. If people aren’t supported it can destroy marriages. There is financial stress and a lot of pressure that is put on families.
“People with life-limiting cancer want to be able to enjoy the time they have with their family relatively symptom-free and pain-free.”
Emmette said that this is where his mother’s nurse proved invaluable to Anne Marie and her family.
“She was my mother’s advocate and supported her in whatever way she wanted to move forward,” Emmette said. “She was brilliant.
“My mother herself was brilliant. She was my best friend. She was the type of person that even though she was going through it herself, she helped other people with cancer who wanted to try an alternative route.”
He added: “In the current economic climate with budget pressures if we don’t support organisations such as the Hospice and MacMillan, the gap between demand and supply for cancer services will widen.”
A number of local businesses have already signed up to feature in the calendar, which is expected to be printed and distributed by early next month, providing a printer can be found to help out.
Those taking part include the staff of Elite Aesthetics in Springtown, The Bentley Bar, RAW Muscle in Pennyburn, Downey’s Bar and The Magnet Bar, while there have also been expressions of interest from a number of stores and offices across the town.
Local sporting heroes including James McClean and Derry City FC players have also pledged their support for the calendar, with some of them also getting their kit off.
Each business pays £100 sponsorship and in return, as well as the professional, closed-set photoshoot (with modesty preserved in the pics), participants also get a glamorous make-over from Sienna Hair and Beauty and a calendar month all to themselves.
As well as raising awareness and money for the two Derry charities, the calendar is about showing solidarity with those whose physical appearance has been impacted on by cancer. It is also aimed, Emmette said, at urging men and women to shed their embarrassment and get checked out if they think they spot any changes, as early detection could save someone’s life.
Emmette said the idea for the naked calendar was inspired by the original Calendar Girls from Yorkshire, and recent TV programming focusing on cancer also played a part.
Emmette said: “Myself and Tommy from APM Marketing, we were watching the Stand Up For Cancer footage and because of our own experience of losing family members we thought it would be a good idea.
“Not being afraid to bare all takes the taboo away from cancer screening and people need to be familiar with their own bodies as early detection is key.
“Cancer affects every group, all lifestyles, ages, cancer doesn’t discriminate.”
Emma Heaney from Elite Aesthetic said her family-run non-surgical aesthetic clinic in Springtown Industrial Estate wanted to get involved with the calendar because they felt it was such a great cause.
“My mother is a survivor of breast cancer so we decided to get onboard and support the cause,” she said, adding: “Our ethos as a business is promoting natural beauty, and not about conforming to what society says you should look like, and that ties in with the message of the calendar.”
Local models, and even Emmette himself, have pledged to step in to pose for firms if their own staff are too camera shy to take part, but Emmette said ideally they would prefer if local employees themselves were willing to shed their inhibitions.
“It is all very tastefully done and the people who have already had their photoshoots said they found it a very empowering experience,” he said.
The calendar will be available to buy in early December through various local retailers.
Any local workforce or business wishing to feature in it, and any printer firms who can help out with the production of the calendar is asked to contact Emmette directly on 07595 171814.