The Proclaimers sang about doing it. Christina Chatfield is doing it.
Through National Smile Month 2014, Christina will be walking 500 miles for 500 smiles from Scotland to Brighton and in doing so raise awareness of mouth cancer.
The campaign launches at Emporium Theatre in Brighton today (12 November) and marks the start of a remarkable journey for owner of Dental Health Spa in Brighton and DH&T Dental Hygienist of the Year Christina.
The walk will begin in Kirriemuir, Scotland, where Christina’s career began, and conclude at her current practice in Brighton, passing through 32 destinations. The money raised will go towards Mouth Cancer Action Month that draws to a close at the end of November.
Christina said: ‘I feel very passionately about improving oral health and widening the access of care for everyone. It’s a subject close to my heart and I’d like to get as many people as possible involved. You have the chance to join me and help to make a difference.
‘Even if it is through a small donation or supporting your local community, I hope walking 500 miles will prompt people into thinking about how a healthy mouth can make all the difference.
‘Walking 500 miles is an opportunity to raise awareness of the benefits of a healthy mouth. Direct access, the biggest law change in dental history that came into force on 1 May, is a significant step for people looking to gain access to better oral health. We’re also looking to raise awareness of mouth cancer, the link with the human papillomavirus (HPV), as well as addressing dental anxiety, something I specialise in at my practice.’
One of Christina’s patients, Welsh actor Steve Spiers, is lending his support to the campaign.
Steve said: ‘I’m backing this campaign, as I was genuinely staggered to hear that more people die of mouth cancer than cervical and testicular cancer together. This sort of ignorance has to be addressed. We can’t rely upon word of mouth so let’s get the word of the mouth out there! Awareness of the fact may encourage someone to regularly visit their dentist and may indeed mean that lives can be saved.’
Chief executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter, added: ‘I’m delighted that Christina has chosen to support Mouth Cancer Action Month. It’s a great challenge for her, and one we will be supporting every step of the way.’
For further information about the campaign, visit www.500miles4smiles.org.