A new skin cancer awareness campaign has been launched ahead of what is set to be a sunny bank holiday weekend.

Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust (NDHT) has teamed up with North Devon RNLI to launch the campaign.

North Devon is blessed to have fantastic beaches and countryside and those who live in and visit the area can spend lots of time outside enjoying them.

However skin cancer rates are on the rise across the UK and incident rates of skin cancer are highest in the South West.

And this Easter weekend, the sun is set to shine with temperatures in the early-to-mid-twenties.

To kick off the campaign two NDHT skin cancer nurse specialists, Laura Beer and Avril Bell, attended the induction of this year's North Devon RNLI lifeguards to talk to them about how they can ensure they stay safe in the sun and how to look out for any changes in their skin.

NDHT were approached by the RNLI to attend the induction and deliver this session to the lifeguards as they understand the importance of sun safety and skin awareness to keeping themselves healthy.

As part of the visit the 2019 cohort of lifeguards were asked to choose a slogan for the campaign from entries submitted by NDHT staff. And the winning slogan was 'Don't let cancer get under your skin'.

Patient access co-ordinator at North Devon District Hospital, Natasha Hodgson, came up with the winning slogan and was presented with a hamper of goodies to keep her safe in the sun this spring and summer.

Dawn Gray, clinical matron for cancer services at NDHT, said: “It's really important to protect yourself and your family from the damaging effects of ultra violet radiation from the sun.

“We encourage people to be more aware of their own body and regularly check their skin for any new or changing moles. If you have any concerns please visit your GP.”

There are plenty of things people can do to enjoy the sunshine safely, including choosing the highest protection sunscreen, reapplying sunscreen regularly, covering up with a hat and clothing and staying out of the sunshine during the peak hours of 11am – 3pm.

Andy Filby, cancer services manager at NDHT, added: “We know that the rate of cancer diagnosis is increasing year on year, particularly in the South West.

“It is important to diagnose and treat all cancers as early as possible in order to have the most positive outcome. If you have any concerns please don't be shy and contact your GP.”

Gary Sinkevicius, RNLI lifeguard supervisor from North Devon RNLI, said: “The nature of lifeguarding means the team spend their working day exposed to the potentially harmful rays of the sun, so sun protection and skin awareness is something we need to take seriously.

“RNLI lifeguards are given suitable advice within their standard training in how to protect themselves from both the short and long term health risks of sun damage.

“They are provided with a high factor sun cream, hat, sunglasses, and parasols for shade, and given advice on how to make the best use of their breaks to keep out of the sun and to drink plenty of fluids.

“It was therefore a pleasure to welcome Laura and Avril along to our induction day to present some additional knowledge on the effects of sun damage and some practical tips on how best to protect themselves.

“The lifeguards all got involved in the tasks, enjoyed the presentation and definitely left having learnt something new.”