In its eighth year, Beard Season is back to raise awareness for melanoma and skin cancers, encouraging bearded (and non-bearded) Aussies to go and get their skin checked out by a GP between June 1 and August 31.

This year, Jimmy Niggles, his infamous Million Dollar Beard and the rest of the crew are launching the season with a big boat party on Sydney Harbour, and a bearded fella who’s committed to growing a Big Bushy Beard for this year’s season and help raise funds and awareness for melanoma. Yep, it’s Hamish Blake – who’s currently sporting some fancy facial follicles that could very well give Jimmy’s million buck beard a run for its money.

Beard Season began as a seasonal event amongst Jimmy and his mates back in 2010 when their good friend Wes Bonny passed away at the age of 26 from melanoma – cancer that develops from sun damage and is one of the leading cancers in Australia. Yep, pretty much as common as prostate or breast cancer.

Each winter, folks are encouraged to grow out their beards and act as ~walking billboards~, stir up the conversation, and talk with their mates/colleagues/strangers about the importance of skin checks. It’s a grassroots effort to boost the number of people not only getting checked out but having potentially cancerous moles and spots looked into and in some cases, removed – and it’s working.

PEDESTRIAN.TV had a chat with Jimmy Niggles about his goals for the upcoming 2018 season of the beard.

We never really wanted to be a ‘fundraising charity’ – we just wanted to focus on awareness and action. Getting people into getting a skin check.  Social media has been amazing for that, and every post we do should have some kind of link with early detection, [combined] with beards as our walking, talking billboards.

Converting our social media likes into donations is a tricky path to master, we’ve only just set up our website to sign up supporters which is going really well. People can set up a team, set themselves challenges and track their beard progress. 

And this year, we’d really love to get everyone together and raise a million dollars, shave my beard off and fund a free national skin-check program.

Jimmy told us that in eight years of making a noise about melanoma – and five years of being an official charity movement – Beard Season saves an average of “one life a week” by having people commit to getting a skin check, only to find that the weird freckle on their back/leg/face/arm/body part is something a bit more sinister.

Since 2010, the community has expanded through word of mouth to over 90,000 people, and includes official ambassadors like Richard Branson, tv host and comedian Graham Norton, Hawthorn Hawks captain Jarryd Roughhead, and model and anti-bullying ambassador Harnaam Kaur (who decided to grow a beard at the age of 16 when she was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.)

If you wanna get along to the nautical-themed 2018 season launch, it’s happening on June 2nd with pre-drinks at the Harbour View Hotel at 3pm, and boarding the tall ship from Walsh Bay at 5pm. Tickets are $145 and you can grab ’em over HERE – all proceeds are going toward Beard Season and the ongoing fight against melanoma.

Image: Supplied / Andrew Goldie