A group of bus drivers from Tameside have been stripping off to produce not one but two cheeky calendars for 2024.
The naked calendars featuring Stagecoach Manchester staff from the Hyde and Stockport depots will raise money to support breast cancer and prostate cancer charities. Staff hope they’ll also act as a year-long reminder for people to be aware of the signs and symptoms of cancer and to get checked out if they notice something that’s not normal for them.
Simon Stopford, lead mental health first-aider for Stagecoach Manchester, said: “I put a list out for male volunteers and was very surprised by the amount of interest! Then I got approached by the ladies asking if they could get involved, so we now have two charity calendars!”
The men’s calendar is raising funds for Prostate Cancer UK, while the women’s calendar is raising money for breast cancer charity Coppa Feel.
Hyde bus driver David Carlyon said: “We wanted to raise awareness of prostate cancer as some members of the group have been affected personally by this disease. We are real men with not the best of bodies, but this didn’t matter!
“Quite a few of us have been touched by cancer. I lost my dad to prostate cancer when I was 15 and I watched him go through his treatment. It has had a lasting impact on me. The calendar is our way of doing something to help raise funds and have a bit of fun too.”
Bus driver Joyce Singh, from Stalybridge, says taking part in the calendar helped her regain her confidence after her own breast cancer diagnosis and treatment in 2023.
Mum-of-two Joyce, 51, found a lump under her left arm after taking a shower in February. She went to her GP the next day and was referred to Tameside Hospital.
Joyce had a mammogram (an X-ray to check breasts for signs of cancer) and a biopsy (which involves taking a small sample of breast tissue so it can be examined under a microscope).
These checks showed she had breast cancer.
Joyce had an operation to remove the lump in her breast in April 2023, around the time of her 50th birthday. This was followed by chemotherapy and then 19 sessions of radiotherapy. She finished treatment in October 2023.
Joyce said: “I was devastated when I heard I had cancer. You never think it will happen to you! The treatment was exhausting and left me very weak. I felt really down when I started to lose my hair. Then I got a wig and started to feel a bit more like me again. When I heard about the calendar, I thought it would be good to raise awareness and get people talking about cancer. It gave me a bit of confidence after everything I’d been through to say ‘look at me now!’ and I didn’t wear my wig for the photos!
“If anyone has symptoms, you need to act on it quickly and book an appointment to see your GP. It could save your life.”
Wendy Ogden, 56, who is originally from Droylsden and now lives in Higher Openshaw, said taking part in the calendar was actually less daunting than some of her previous fundraising efforts which include completing a half marathon and taking part in a Ladies Full Monty show.
She said: “I just thought why not!? Like others, I also lost my mum to cancer so I’m passionate about raising awareness.”
Neville Firth, 56, from near Heaton Chapel, said: “Taking part in the calendar was very personal to me as my brother Martin had prostate cancer and died two years ago. I’m now the same age as he was when he died. Martin told me and my older brother Rick to get ourselves checked, which we did.”
Rob Jones, managing director at Stagecoach Manchester, commented: “It’s inspiring to see just how much our drivers care and we’re so proud of everything they’re doing to not only raise much-needed funds but also raise awareness of the importance of checking and getting help as early as possible.”
Alison Jones, director of earlydiagnosis at Greater Manchester Cancer Alliance, said: “It’s brilliant to hear about these calendars and the work staff at Stagecoach are doing to raise awareness about cancer.
“Cancer survival is at an all-time high and we’re seeing more people than ever before diagnosed with cancer at an early stage, but we want to continue this progress.
“It’s important for everyone to be aware of their own bodies. Please look out for lumps and bumps or anything else that is unusual for you, and get checked out early. It could save your life.”
If people notice symptoms that could be cancer, they should contact their GP practice and come forward for checks as early as possible so they can get the all-clear or, in some cases, a cancer diagnosis sooner – to give them the best chance of surviving the disease.
Symptoms of breast cancer can include a lump or change in the look, shape or feel of one or both breasts, while symptoms of prostate cancer can include difficulty starting to urinate or emptying your bladder.
Most men with early prostate cancer don’t have any signs or symptoms. That’s why it’s important to know about your prostate cancer risk. You can check your risk by using the Prostate Cancer UK risk checker: https://bit.ly/GMprostateriskchecker.
The calendars are being sold by Stagecoach staff.