For twelve years I have run The Beach Factory, I started the business with a friend. We couldn’t find any sun protection swimwear which our own children would wear, they had outgrown wearing the fluorescent trimmed one piece sun suits which was all that was then available. So we sourced from New Zealand, Australia, the USA, stocked the major surf brands and what we offered was different, wearable and was not available on the high street, let alone on-line.
Our products were featured in the press in a mid-week column one May half term and people were literally ringing from the beaches in Devon and Cornwall to place orders. We had identified a gap in the market and hoped that the “sunsmart” message was getting through to the public. The best way to prevent sun damage was to cover up when in the sun, and that meant not just toddlers-but all ages. The Australians had addressed this issue years ago with a strong “Slip Slop Slop Slide” message, Slip on a swim shirt, Slop on sun cream, Slap on a hat and Slide on some sunglasses.Was the UK ready to embrace such a message? I believed so.
Today is the last day of Sun Awareness Week, the messages from BAD (British Association of Dermatologists) have been the same for the last few years, skin cancer rates are on the increase, a bad burn as a child increases your chance of developing skin cancer, check your moles, do not use a sun bed, you have heard it all before. And so, for one this week in May, and as happens so often, it has been a cold wet blustery week, we are encouraged to think about sun protection.
And then silence, nothing is mentioned again. No reminders on the radio in the morning to put sun cream on children before they go to school, the weather report mentions the pollen count but rarely warns TV viewers about the need to apply sun cream if watching or participating in sport. The bottom line is, most people don’t really worry about a bit of sun burn, everyone wants a tan and so, once again.twelve years on the sun protection message falls on deaf ears.