Celebrities design M&S underwear for charity

A series of celebrities have joined forces to raise awareness of prostate cancer, by designing an exclusive range of men’s underwear for M&S.

Ex-England footballers Les Ferdinand MBE and Jamie Redknapp, television presenters Adrian Chiles and Ben Shephard, and sportsmen Jason Leonard OBE and Jimmy White, have put their individual stamps on six different styles of underpants, which will be sold in Marks & Spencer stores nationwide in aid of The Prostate Cancer Charity.

M&S is a long term supporter of the charity, for which it has raised almost £1 million in five years, but this is the first time that it has created a full range of celebrity-designed products.

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Ben Shephard, who is backing the campaign, as his father was treated for prostate cancer, said: “I have to say, I am very proud of the design for my M&S pants. I even did market research and took them to my hairdressers. They agree they will be pretty popular. Even Jeremy Paxman will be queuing up for a pair.

“I wanted to show my support for the awareness month and design these pants, because my Dad, David, was actually diagnosed with prostate cancer a couple of years ago. Two of my best friends’ dads were also treated for the disease. The three of us were in the pub one day and there was a surreal moment when we realised that all of our fathers had been diagnosed at the same time. It made us aware just how prevalent prostate cancer is.”

Television presenter, Adrian Chiles, is keen to get the message out there about prostate cancer after a friend was diagnosed with the disease:

“With my design, I have effectively worn my heart – which clearly belongs to West Bromwich Albion FC – on my M&S underpants,” he said. “Everyone knows I am a massive ‘Baggies’ fan, and I naturally looked to the terraces for my inspiration. What struck me was that the 37,000 men diagnosed with prostate cancer every year would not even fit into our stadium, the Hawthorns, let alone their families.

“As well as showing off my, as yet, little known design skills, I had a personal reason for supporting Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. A friend of mine was recently treated for the disease. I am now more aware of prostate cancer myself, and all men need to understand the potential signs and symptoms. It is fantastic that M&S is supporting the awareness month in this way.”

Competition is already emerging in the celebrities, most of whom have had friends or family affected by the disease, the most common cancer in men in the UK – over whose design will prove the most popular with customers.

Les Ferdinand MBE, who showed team allegiance in his version, said: “I had a lot of fun designing these pants for M&S. I was more than happy to get involved as the proceeds will go to The Prostate Cancer Charity. I am particularly keen to add my voice to this. African Caribbean men are three times more likely to develop prostate cancer, yet there has been a taboo around this in the past.

“By visiting M&S and buying some pants from this range – and hopefully my Tottenham Hotspur FC-inspired ones will be a hot favourite – people will be joining the Charity, and me, in making a step towards greater understanding.”

Jamie Redknapp added: "I’m really honoured to be part of this project with M&S and The Prostate Cancer Charity. It’s a really important cause and I hope my design sells well and raises vital funds for research into the disease.”

The range will hit stores today to time with Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, which will aim to bring this disease – that kills one man every hour in the UK – further out into the open. The Prostate Cancer Charity is urging people to declare ‘I’m aware’ throughout the month, and take pride in increasing their knowledge of the disease.

The Prostate Cancer charity chief executive John Neate said: “Our partnership with M&S is invaluable. It extends our presence into communities, giving us a platform to reach people on the High Street we could not hope to achieve without them. As well as raising funds, we know from the many calls to our Helpline signposted by literature in M&S, how important it is to enabling us to reach men and their families.

“I would like to thank M&S for their continued support – as well as the celebrities who have taken the time to design this exciting new range. I, for one, am excited to see this debut collection in stores. I hope men, and the women who often buy their underwear, head to M&S to help us make this innovative initiative a great success.”

The support for the Charity extends to staff, who have been quick to embrace the partnership. Many will take on fundraising endeavours of their own during March.

Pin badges, trolley tokens and bottle openers will also be available in store throughout the month, for a suggested donation.

*The pants cost £15 for a pack of two designs, with all proceeds coming to The Prostate Cancer Charity. The products will be on sale from Tuesday 1 March.

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