It is a project that has helped to save hundreds of lives.
Bridgnorth Lions Club is urging men to sign up for its annual prostate cancer screening evening on Wednesday September 20. It is the chance to take a simple blood test for a deadly disease that, caught early, is potentially curable.
As last year, the scheme has been extended to include diabetes and cholesterol tests.
Castle Hall is the venue, 4.30-10pm.
“Each test takes about three minutes and we are aiming for 1,200 men to be tested on the evening. Some will be very glad they came,” says Lions’ spokesman Peter Parker.
The club launched its annual PSA (prostate-specific antigen) Test Event in 2009 since when it has carried out some 11,000 tests. As a result, in the past 14 years more than 400 men have been diagnosed with prostate cancer, many of whom had experienced no symptoms and so no idea that they had the disease, Peter says.
And that, in a nutshell, is the problem because early diagnosis is key to surviving a cancer that kills 13,000 men in the UK every year.
It is exactly why the Lions’ PSA Test Event provides such a fantastic public service.
The scheme is monitored by the Graham Fulford Charitable Trust with the average timeline from the samples taken to the client receiving the results being 48 hours. Blood samples are taken by a team of up to 30 fully-trained nurses and are couriered to a laboratory in London with the results passed to the Graham Fulford clinicians for analysis.
Results are emailed out. If you receive a green letter then no further action is required other than to come for another test in a couple of years. An amber letter means your numbers are a little high and a further test is recommended within six to 12 months. A red letter advises you to contact your GP for further tests and advice. This is important as the test can throw up a false positive.
Peter says pre-booking is essential and online only, via Bridgnorth Lions website bridgnorthlions.org.uk That formality aside, the Lions try to make the event as relaxed and welcoming as possible.
“I know there is a reluctance amongst us blokes to go to the doctor so we feel we are providing a very important service for the men of the town and surrounding area.
“We try to make it as fun an evening as we can, the chance to have a pint and chat around a routine test. We love to provide this service, to have a few laughs to hopefully ease any anxieties that some men might have and take the stress out of the whole thing.”
Cholesterol and Diabetes
As last year, there is the option of taking additional cholesterol and diabetes tests at the same time as your PSA test. This is simply carried out at the same time with a maximum of two blood vials taken during one blood sample. The additional two tests are completely optional and you can select either or both when you register.
There has been a huge increase in cases of Diabetes in recent years and it is a condition that needs to be identified so that it can be kept under control. There are potentially serious consequences if the condition is not controlled.
High cholesterol is a killer as it can lead to heart attacks, strokes and other serious health complications. This simple test shows up whether your cholesterol level needs to be addressed by your doctor, either through a change of diet, course of tablets or other treatment.
The PSA test costs £20 with the additional tests for Diabetes and cholesterol also costing £20 each. These charges are subsidised by the generous support of many local companies.
Appointments can be made easily via the Bridgnorth Lions Club website (bridgnorthlions.org.uk). Each booking generates a personal QR code and once you are registered on the system, results from all previous tests will be accessible, showing testing history.
Peter was at the heart of the launch of Bridgnorth Lions PSA Test Event in 2009 – thanks, oddly enough, to his love of golf.
He explains: “I’m a long time member of Cleobury Mortimer Golf Club. It organised a PSA testing evening through Kidderminster Prostate Cancer Association and three carloads of us went down to it. We all thought it was the kind of thing we should be doing in Bridgnorth and it went from there.”
Bridgnorth Lions Club very much believes that prevention is better than cure and that is the principle at the heart of what its members are doing.
The prostate cancer/health screening initiative is one of several public-spirited activities undertaken by Bridgnorth Lions Club, which was formed in 1976 by four like-minded men to help the community. In the intervening 47 years, the club has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for local good causes and its membership now stands at 25.
Aside from the prostate screening evening, the club also organises other major events in the town such as the famous Bridgnorth Walk and the annual Duck Race.
The annual walk, expanded by the Lions to include a marathon run and family walk when they took over its organisation, draws thousands of people together – either as participants or cheering spectators – in a wonderful community event that annually raises approximately £100,000 for charity.
The Duck Race brings enjoyment to many, adding much to the overall fun of Bridgnorth Carnival while raising money for good causes.
“Because we are local, we serve the unique needs of the community in which we live. But as we are also global, we can address international challenges such as help for earthquake victims or other disasters wherever they occur.”
A prime example is the use of some funds from last year’s walk and marathon to support the people of war-torn Ukraine.
Having fun while helping their community – both local and wider – is what it’s all about for Lions. Regular club night meetings are on the second Tuesday of each month, at The Down Inn, just outside Bridgnorth on the Ludlow Road.
The club has an active social calendar, enjoyed by all members and partners and anyone interested in joining should have a chat with any of the Lions on the PSA Test Event evening or beforehand.
The Lions movement was founded in Chicago, USA, in 1917 by insurance agent Melvin Jones, and became international when the first club in Canada was formed in 1920. The UK’s first club was opened in London in 1949. There are now more than 12,000 Lions in 900 clubs in this country.
Melvin Jones’ personal code for life, “You can’t get very far until you start doing something for somebody else”, became a guiding principle for public-spirited people the world over.
Bridgnorth is part of Lions Clubs International (LCI) – with 1.4million members across the globe.
Its motto is ‘We Serve’.
It certainly sums up Bridgnorth Lions’ big-hearted approach to their community. And never was that more poignantly illustrated than by a simple blood test on an autumn evening that could help to save a life.
WEDNESDAY 20TH SEPTEMBER
Castle Hall, Bridgnorth – 4.30pm – 10.00pm
A 3 minute simple blood test could save your life – sign up now via the Bridgnorth Lions website www.bridgnorthlions.org.uk
What does it cost? PSA Test, £20 (can be booked on its own) Diabetes & Cholesterol Test, £20 each