Cornwall firefighters raise thousands in Movember festival for men's mental health

Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service
Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service Credit: Graham Smith/PA

Firefighters in Cornwall have raised thousands of pounds thanks to Movember-inspired fundraiser events to encourage men to talk about their mental health.

Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service received more than £3,000 in donations this month because of a charity rugby game and a mini-festival known as 'Mo Fest'.

The crew in Liskeard held the event with live music at their community fire station on Saturday (November 26).

'Getting people to talk'

Firefighter Graham Smith said the events are important to allow conversations to take place about mental health.

The 41-year-old said: "It was fantastic, a great time was had by everyone. Mo Fest (was) the pièce de résistance.

The fire service has raised more than £15,000 in annual fundraisers over the years Credit: Graham Smith/PA

"(When) we all jump off the fire truck and we’ve all got moustaches and people are like, 'What on earth is going on here? Are we stuck in the 70s or something?'"

"It’s not all about the money for me, it’s just raising awareness and getting people to talk."

'It’s not an easy conversation'

Smith said he first wanted to fundraise for the cause when a family member died from a brain tumour four years ago.

He also explained that a member of the team at the fire station completed suicide in 2021, prompting him to realise it is vital that people are made aware of the struggles people have with mental health.

"I think it’s about people having the confidence to speak to people and making that initial conversation with someone about mental health struggles," he said.

"It’s not an easy conversation to have at all.

"If we can help just one person, that’s the most important thing."

'People enjoy themselves'

During Movember, people show their support by growing facial hair throughout November as the month aims to highlight men’s health issues – including mental health.

The emergency service began their crowdfunders in the aid of Movember four years ago and since then the team has raised more than £15,000.

Three Cornish bands – Devil Rain, Rudh, and The Mighty Revz – played for free at this year’s Mo Fest.

The profit from ticket, food, and drink sales saw them raise over £1,000 for Movember on the night.

The crew were still on call and 'available for shouts' during the event.

Staff from a local radio station were able to set up a stage for the performers and help prepare the station for more than 100 people.

"It’s more about getting the community involved and actually having something good and fun for them to go and achieve and take part in," Smith said.

"People come and enjoy themselves and ultimately raise a bit of money for Movember and push the Movember message because they do some cracking work."

A Cornish band performing at Mo Fest Credit: Graham Smith/PA

Danceathons and ice baths

Smith has taken on personal crowdfunders for Movember over the years, including a 42-mile walk.

After a 24-hour 'danceathon' in 2021, Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service became the 'top raising' fire station in the country.

This year, he has taken an ice bath each day of November, increasing the time spent in the bath by 15 seconds each day.

On Saturday, he was up to eight minutes, 15 seconds in the bath.

He said: "It provides people with a little entertainment.

"I’ve been making videos while doing it, some time lapses, and the donations have been coming in from that (too)."

You can find out more about the crew’s Movember work here.