THE Mingenew community came together last Saturday night to wrap up Movember activities that included a massive fundraising campaign and highlighted issues of men’s health such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer and men’s suicide.
A solid group of 40 men from across the region grew moustaches as part of the well-supported effort.
An estimated 300 people gathered at the Mingenew Recreation Centre to back the event organised by the Mingenew Gringos.
The event paid tribute to Peter Ward, a prominent member of the community who recently lost a battle with depression.
One of the event organisers was Smyth Agri Services owner Anthony Smyth who said eight people in Australia lost their battles with depression on a daily basis.
He was joined by Mingenew Elders branch manager Jarrad Kupsch in putting the concept together.
“Jarrad and I spoke to each other earlier in October,” Mr Smyth said.
“We decided to join forces and use our network to get the auction items together and drive the Mingenew Gringo message which was all about raising awareness around men’s health – particularly depression and suicide,” Mr Smyth said.
Only anticipating 100 people to attend and expecting to raise about $20,000, the men were shocked when three times that number supported the event and they raised $39,000 on the night – on top of the $45,000 in donations they had already received.
“We are shooting for second place across the whole country on the Movember site which is a huge effort for a small country town when you look at the size and reach of some other groups,” Mr Smyth said.
The event kicked off with a game of super six cricket between members of the Mingenew Gringos and the North Midlands All Stars.
Admission was $10 and everyone watched the game under lights, enjoying a sausage sizzle, before moving onto an information session with guest speakers, highlighting the serious issues at hand.
“We had guest speaker Kent Morrison who used to be the local GP in Dongara,” Mr Smyth said.
“He is now based in Perth and he presented the medical side of depression in terms of diagnosis and treatment.”
There was a personal touch from radio and media personality Glenn Mitchell who spoke about his personal struggle with depression, including his attempted suicide and what it took to turn his life around with medication and the support of his family.
The speeches were wrapped up by Owen Catto from Wheatbelt Men’s Health who highlighted services available for people who are suffering, as well as the new Talk to a Mate campaign.
The mood was a bit lighter when awards were given out for various competitions.
“After the presentations we had a moustache award which we gave prizes away for, such as the creeper mo and the best man-scaped mo,” Mr Smyth said.
“Also a shit shirt competition, which was on the invite to dress in a shit shirt, so we gave a prize away for the worst shirt too.”
The auction finished late after 86 items were successfully sold.
Two of Mr Ward’s close friends – Greg Poultney and Rodney Johns – auctioned their moustaches off.
“Rodney had a moustache for 35 years and Greg had his for 22 years,” Mr Smyth said.
“Between them we raised about $3500 to have their moustaches shaved off and Rodney didn’t just shave off the moustache but rather his whole head – so his eyebrows, his hair and his mo.”
Mr Smyth said the idea was to highlight an issue that had been taboo for a long time and to get people to talk to each other.
“It was never about the money and hopefully when people think about the moustaches or the event they think about what we were doing it for,” Mr Smyth said.