Generous giving: volunteer Michael Downes and local organiser David Warner (right) welcome donations for the North & East Devon Prostate Support Association at Exmouth's Tesco superstore.
I have to confess I sometimes hurry past street collectors. But since I met so unexpectedly the disease which is diagnosed annually in 35,000 men in the UK alone, the plea for volunteers to help our local North & East Devon Prostate Support Association caught my eye.
You're not actually supposed to catch the eye of passers-by as you stand there with your collection box according to the strict guidelines issued by the organisers, and you're certainly not supposed to rattle it under punters' noses in that brazenly cheery fashion adopted by some charity hawkers. But I couldn't help studying the faces of people who did stop to put money in the box as I waited outside Exmouth's Tesco superstore on Salterton Road yesterday.
And lots of people did stop. Even if it was just a few coppers, they paused on their busy way, giving me a few seconds' reflection on what had made them decide. For the young ones who I'd thought wouldn't notice me, was it a father or a grandfather who'd been diagnosed or even died from prostate cancer? Was the old lady in her 70s who silently pushed a £20 note in the slot before hurrying away still remembering the best friend or the husband that she'd lost?
I started off trying to look a bit pathetic and grateful. And yes, it seemed to work as the collection boxes got heavier and heavier. But it was also fun to find myself joking with complete strangers about this annoying disease which comes out of the blue. The hour's stint that my friend Annie and I did passed quickly and easily.
The North & East Devon Prostate Support Association is grateful to Tesco PLC for its permission to use the Exmouth superstore for its October collection day. A total of £483.26 was raised.
"We're delighted with the result of the collection and would like to thank all those who contributed," commented David Warner. "The amount raised was more than double what we collected on the last occasion three years ago and shows not only that people know more about prostate cancer as a potential killer but also that they are more aware of the treatments that are offered nowadays."
Click on http://www.nedpsa.org.uk/ for more details of the North & East Devon Prostate Support Association.