Distinguished Gentleman's Ride raises awareness of men's health

Father and son duo Peter and Mark Sykes. Peter's Ariel has been passed down through the family. Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong
Father and son duo Peter and Mark Sykes. Peter's Ariel has been passed down through the family. Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong

Hundreds of well-groomed men and women, including Boorowa’s Peter and Mark Sykes, rode vintage motorbikes into Canberra on Sunday afternoon to raise awareness for men's health.

The Distinguished Gentleman's Ride is an Australian-born yearly event that takes place in 600 cities across the globe.

Canberra organiser Simon Whittaker said 180 riders had officially registered for the capital's event, although it looked like many more hangers-on had shown up for the festivities.

"This ride raises about $40,000 or more every year," he said.

"We've been fundraising for five years now. The money goes toward prostate cancer research and mental health awareness."

Although the event might seem male-dominated, Mr Whittaker said many women had taken up the invitation to get involved.

"All of these issues affect women too," he said.

"They might have husbands or partners or brothers that are affected."

The event was established in 2012 by Sydneysider Mark Hawwa and it is estimated that it has raised a combined $8 million to date.

Bill Guthrie, riding a 1960 Li 150 Lambretta, said the event touched upon issues that very were close to his heart.

"I've lost both a brother and a mother to cancer," he said.

"The ride is for a very good cause."

According to Australian government figures, more than 16,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2017.

Riding in Mr Guthrie's sidecar was good friend David Pang, who said he had become involved in for similar reasons.

"It's not just for cancer, but it's to raise awareness of mental health and suicide prevention as well," he said.

"I come from the military, where mental health is obviously a big problem."

Founder Mark Hawwa said the 2017 ride was particularly poignant, given the loss of a volunteer event host earlier this year to suicide.

"What was already a personal event for many has taken on a new meaning, especially after losing one of our own," he said.

"We ride this year for the men of the world who struggle with mental health and for the families and individuals whose lives are affected by prostate cancer."

For more information visit movember.com or gentlemansride.com.

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