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Friday, 13 April 2018 08:36

Big Blokes build on prostate momentum

For the eighth consecutive year, the East Gippsland Biggest Blokes BBQ Lunch committee has raised more than $50,000 for the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia (PCFA) with the help of a most generous local community. This year’s cheque for $53,000 was recently presented to PCFA state manager, John Strachan. In turn, the foundation returns $35,000 to Bairnsdale Regional Health Service, which uses the money to provide a prostate cancer nurse for three days a week for the local community. Without that money, Bairnsdale would struggle to provide the service. Big Boys Barbecues across Victoria fund four prostate cancer nurses in local communities, with $4.711 million raised to date. That figure will be north of $5m by year’s end. Bairnsdale committee chair, Bob Yeates, said, on presenting the annual cheque to Mr Strachan, that the local committee was very appreciative of the local support from businesses and individuals that consistently make the Bairnsdale day such a great success year after year. Mr Strachan said he really loved coming to the Bairnsdale event. It is smaller than some, but the atmosphere was always great and the food on the day leads the state, he said. Key drivers from the local prostate cancer support group, Linton Blackwell and Wayne Stagg, said this year’s event was another success story.

Local prostate cancer nurse, Judy Mayes, also attended and enjoyed most of the day before returning to work. Ladies from the East Gippsland Breast Care Support Fund, who received assistance from the Big Blokes to run a similar ladies’ event and raise $20,000 late last year, returned the favour and helped out in fine style at the Big Blokes Barbecue. The Big Boys Barbecue movement started a decade ago in Shepparton by the then managing director of the Shepparton News, Chris McPherson. Mr McPherson took the concept to Melbourne and in a nutshell, the city bureaucratic response was not enthusiastic. It was the leadership style of Mr McPherson the drove the movement across Victoria, from Mildura to Echuca, Bendigo, Ballarat, Bairnsdale, Sale, Warragul, Morwell, Pakenham and now Melbourne. Some events attract more than 850 attendees, with Bairnsdale’s numbers constant at about 300. Kingston (Tasmania) has also held an event and this year events will be held across New South Wales with the help of Apex clubs of New South Wales, and also independently to Bunbury (Western Australia). Big Boys Barbecue committees across the state have led hospital thinking and funding towards prostate cancer care in country Victoria, according to Shepparton’s Big Boy, Shane O’Sullivan. Mr Yeates dismissed the notion that the big day out for local blokes should have a greater focus on medical issues or that some men enjoyed themselves too much. “What is important,” he said, “is that men get together and talk, have a good laugh and of course, are gently reminded that it’s not a bad idea to have a check up.” “Any criticism of the day by ill-informed disconnected media commentators was laughable. They are like so many politicians, local, state or federal, and bureaucrats, often totally disconnected with local community activity doing good,” he said. The 2019 event will be Bairnsdale’s ninth year and it is to be held on Friday, March 1.