With a skirl of the pipes and to the cheers of pupils from Northmuir Primary School, staff from the Kirriemuir Dental Practice headed off on Monday to support a former colleague’s epic fund-raising challenge.
Ten members of staff were joined by retired dentist Jim Estill to walk the 19 miles to Beam Orthodontics in South Tay Street, Dundee.
They were offering their support to Christina Chatfield, Dental Hygienist of the Year, as she embarked on a 500-mile walk from her original home town in Kirriemuir to Brighton in East Sussex, where she now runs a practice, to raise money and awareness of mouth cancer.
Christina was joined on Monday by Kirriemuir staff members Aisling Hanly, Emma Gordon, Helen White, Angela Simpson, Vikki Lyall, Shannon Campbell, Lynn Sharp, Moira Millar and Sarah Bell.
Also taking part in the walk was local businessman Mark Guild.
There was a welcome surprise for the party when they reached Glamis as Lord Strathmore was there to greet them with a sign stating Brighton - 495 miles!
Christina, who has £3,000 pledged to date, will visit 32 cities as she walks over 500 miles, finishing on June 19.
She is raising money for Mouth Cancer Awareness and the British Dental Health Foundation.
Mouth cancer is one of the fastest growing cancers due to the increase in HPV-related cases – especially in Scotland. Experts forecast that HPV related cancers will reach epidemic levels within a decade and overtake traditional risk factors. Awareness is the key. Girls are currently vaccinated but boys are not, yet the burden of HPV cancers is the same in men as in women.
Christina aims to change all this.
She said: “Walking and talking are two things that I can do – one quicker than the other – to help get important messages out to the general public and my patients. I feel very passionately about the oral health and well-being of my community. Not only do I hope the walk will raise awareness of the benefits of a healthy mouth, I hope to highlight the link between poor oral health and diabetes and heart disease, as well as addressing the self-esteem of people suffering with dental anxiety.
“It is also an opportunity, especially in Scotland where rates are so high, to raise awareness of the growing threat of mouth cancer. It claims more lives than cervical and testicular cancer combined, yet I cannot imagine too many people being aware of that fact.
“That is why I would like dental professionals who share my passion to get involved. By donating as little as just £10, you could potentially prompt someone into getting checked out, a move that could save their life. Please support us by walking a little way with us.”
For more details visit www.500miles4smiles.org
To view a video of the great send-off for the Kirriemuir team, visit our websites www.forfardispatch.co.uk and www.kirriemuirherald.co.uk