Everyone has a story

About me
Everybody has a story. I have one too. For personal reasons there’s an element I’d like to keep private as I’m sure you will understand. My name is Craig, a web and applications developer (yes, I’m a geek but they call me a programmer with a personality) heading the digital development department of a Midlands based creative agency in Birmingham UK. I’m not funded, I don’t make a profit and I don’t intend too.

Beards for Bowels
My family all fund raise for different charities, all in different ways. This inspired me to set up Beards for Bowels back in December 2010 to help raise awareness of bowel cancer. During the time I was setting up the website and artwork, I ran into technical difficulties with the domain name supplier. I lost the domain names that then got purchased by ‘Joe Bloggs’ which I had to offer a substantial amount of money to reclaim the domain names back. Bummer. This delayed the website launch till around February 2011. I started off blogging all things bowel cancer related then decided to create an iPhone app which provides statistics and information, a simple way to donate and a viral aspect where you can take a selfie and pose a fake beard on your face and share online to help spread the word. In 2013, it was nominated Mobile Fund Raiser of the Year via JustGiving for the use of the JustTextGiving by Vodafone feature.

#Decembeard
I love seeing ‘is Decembeard a thing?’ on Twitter. Makes me smile when someone has just stumbled across the word. To me, Decembeard is not exactly a ‘new thing’ but it’s great that people are coming to know of it. The history of Decembeard I recall goes back to 2009 where a charity across the pond (sorry, USA) grow beards to raise awareness of child sexual exploitation and sex trafficking. If you dig a little deeper there are mentions of it all the way back in 2006 too. An obvious follow on from Movember you may think. However it was Chris Evans on the BBC Radio 2 Breakfast Show who announced he would be growing a beard to help raise money for bowel cancer during the month of December which quickly became an annual event for charities and fund raisers across the UK.

Because of already knowing the brief history of the word ‘Decembeard’, I jumped on board with the campaign after hearing Mr Evans making the announcement. I wasn’t alone, other charities and fund raisers ran with it too all in their own style. It was a great opportunity as I’ll be honest; I can’t join you in a fun run, I may have an asthma attack. I can’t bake and sell cakes, I may poison you. I can grow a beard :)

All for Charity
I’ll admit that although donations are vital to charities to help fund their hard work, raising money hasn’t always been my main objective. My aim has been to help raise support and awareness so that people get to know the symptoms, where to find information and not to be embarrassed to talk about it to your doctor as early diagnosis could save your life. That’s pretty important! With that in mind, I do have a JustGiving page and JustTextGiving by Vodafone SMS short code *just in case* anyone felt the urge to donate to my chosen charity Bowel Cancer UK and their @DecembeardUK campaign.

Get Involved

As I’m just a fund raiser, I have some great ideas on how to make maximum exposure of the campaigns but it’s obvious that I can’t pursue such ventures as I’m dedicated to my career and I can only do so much in my spare time while juggling family and social life (and as I type this vetting my dog all through the night who has recently been diagnosed with cancer #BestFriend). Hence the reason I do get a little over excited when someone wants to write a blog, feature on a website, I get a mention from a celebrity or the social interaction on Twitter and Instagram.

Whether you are bearded or not, it would be great if you could show your support over on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Your fav’s are fantastic but it’s your RT’s and mentions which help spread the word of the campaigns so pop along, say hello and browse the bearded fellas on http://decembeard.co

Well, that’s me. What’s your story?

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