MOUSTACHES have not been trendy in the mainstream for some time, but walking down the street this month you may have noticed quite a few more than you might normally expect to see.
It is all in aid of men’s health in a charity movement called Movember, which is picking up pace each year.rd
Quite simply, men are sponsored to grow moustaches throughout the month of November. Those taking part in the hirsute charity challenge are collectively known as “Mo Bros”.
One of the most high-profile “Mos” locally is Belfast Lord Mayor Gavin Robinson. He confessed that this was the first time he has ever had a moustache.
“I must say, I’ll be glad to get my lip back on Friday. It has been very itchy and quite annoying, but it is for a very good cause,” he said.
The Lord Mayor’s moustache has been high profile given all the events he attends as part of his duties, and it was even a topic of conversation at the top table of the DUP conference over the weekend.
First Minister Peter Robinson teasingly compared it to that of a Mexican bandit.
“It’s certainly been a talking point in the corridors of the City Hall and all the other places I visit each day as part of this role,” he told the News Letter.
“I will be getting it taken off on Friday at the Jason Shankey salon. My wife will be relieved.”
Mr Robinson also recruited a team of 16 council workers in Belfast and councillors from across the Province, who have become known as the Lord Mayor’s Mos.
DUP East Belfast MLA Sammy Douglas is in this team, as well as councillors Adam Newton, Tom Haire, Guy Spence and Lee Reynolds, along with PUP councillor John Kyle, Alliance councillor Andrew Webb and Sinn Fein councillor Steven Corr.
Outside of Belfast, Newtownards Deputy Mayor Stephen McIlveen and Craigavon councillor Darryn Causby are also taking part.
They have so far raised £1,900 and hope by the end of this week to have broken through the £2,000 barrier.
Mr McIlveen told the News Letter that his deputy mayoral duties had given him plenty of opportunity to promote Movember, and said that while no other Ards councillors took part this year, he thinks many of them may do so next year.
“It’s been quite itchy and uncomfortable, but generally the reaction to it has been very positive, a bit of light-hearted ribbing, but at least it is drawing attention to a very good cause,” he said.
The BBC has also seen a number of its workers taking part in Movember, including Stephen Nolan’s producer Vinny Hurrell and sports reporter Gavin Andrews.
East Belfast PR consultant Geoff McGimpsey said he previously had not sported any facial hair since he was in his 20s.
“I had a friend who took part a few years ago when it was less known and did not get as much support as people doing it this year are getting,” he said.
“Generally I think men’s health is a great charity and something that really deserves highlighting, so it is worth maybe looking a little silly for.
“However, my son Joshua, 8, decided last week it was time for the moustache to come off and I think my wife Sarah agrees.”
Will Chambre, of Chambre Public Affairs, said he has had a very positive reaction to his handlebar moustache as it has grown over the course of the month, and was even offered a free pizza by a chef impressed at what he was doing.
“This is the first time I have grown a moustache and I can tell you my wife can’t wait until December 1,” Will said.
“It is a fantastic initiative to put the spotlight on men’s health.”
Editor of online magazine The View Brian Pelan is taking part, but donating what he fundraises to Welcome, an organisation that helps the homeless in Belfast.
“The challenge came from a friend who had done a parachute jump for charity. Thankfully, my activity is much easier and safer, but I will be glad to shave it off at the end of the month.”
l To support a Mo Bro, log on to http://uk.movember.com/.