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Harry the Wheelbarrow Man reaches Cape Reinga

Harry the Wheelbarrow Man reaches Cape Reinga at 12.30pm today

For immediate release
Friday, 23 April, 2004

Wheelbarrow Man hits the end of the road on anti-skin cancer crusade Englishman Harry Townsend, who lost his wife to Melanoma in 1999, finishes his 1200km walk around the North Island with a wheelbarrow to raise funds for skin cancer research today at 12.30pm, having reached Cape Reinga.

One in 29 New Zealanders is diagnosed with skin cancer each year, one of the worst skin cancer statistics in the world*.

Dubbed "Harry The Wheelbarrow Man", the sixty-seven year old has already raised over 23,000 pounds for research in the United Kingdom, and has now raised $20,000 for research in New Zealand. All funds will be retained for research projects in New Zealand.

Professor Graham Le Gros, a leading researcher based at the Malaghan Institute in Wellington says New Zealand is facing a growing serious health issue in coming years, due to the developing nature of skin cancer.

"Research is required to counter the vast number of skin cancers already underway, which will appear later on in life. Fortunately the education programmes in place regarding sun safety should have an impact on the younger generation, but for older people, it is a current serious health threat."

Dr Peter Dady, Medical Director of the Cancer Society says around 200 people die every year from Melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer.

"For the past fifteen years we have promoted avoidance of sunburn as a prevention, but for many the damage is done. It is really important to get skin lesions looked at and where necessary removed," he says.

"Our high statistics have a lot to do with fair skin and exposure to among the fiercest sun rays in the world."

A number of corporates have supported the cause, including rural supplies company RD1, The Fletcher Construction Company Ltd, which customized Harry's two-wheeled barrow, Barkers Mens' Clothing and marketing and communications agency CentralStation.

Harry simultaneously competed for the Guinness Book of Records' record for sponsors for one person for one event. His target is 10,001. The tally has not yet been counted.

Ends

For more information:

To find out more about Harry the Wheelbarrow Man's tour of New Zealand, including key dates visit: www.melanoma-fund.co.nz

About Harry Townsend

A former journalist, Harry Townsend is a former rugby and gardening columnist. He is an avid adventurer who has climbed Mt Kilimanjaro, trekked the Grand Canyon from rim to rim and has completed a Death Valley and the Sahara Desert marathon. Harry Townsend is a former curator of Kew Gardens in Richmond, London.

*Source: The Epidemiology of Malignant Melanoma, Desmond & Soong, Surgical Clinics of North America, Vol 83.


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