As the month of November draws to a close, a Holywell teacher reflects on this year's Movember fundraiser which has been an opportunity to raise awareness of men's mental and physical health issues.

It is the fourth year that Darren Higgins, a physics teacher at Ysgol Treffynnon, has led the school's fundraising drive for Movember. The initiative is close to his heart after the devastating experience of losing his cousin to suicide several years ago.

Now a global campaign, Movember started in Australia in 2003 with the aim of saving and improving men's lives through projects focused on prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health and suicide prevention.

Darren was joined in the campaign by fellow science teachers Matt Warwick and Steve Holmes, and Darren Gilbart and Paul Jennings, both IT technicians. Not to be left out, teaching assistants Shell Reid and Sam Pritchard took part in Move for Movember, pledging to walk or run a specified distance during the month.

Darren said: "As in previous years, the in-depth conversations we have been having with students about mental health and men's health more generally have been fantastic and very positive. The students fully understand why we are doing what we are doing and have been very supportive.

"As a staff we recently undertook some training to look at wellbeing in teenagers, which is more important than ever in these times.

"According to data from Coverdale published in 2017, one in 10 school aged children had a mental health condition at any one time and half of those started before the age of 14. I certainly think those figures will only have increased due to lockdowns and the impact of the pandemic.

"This is why, here at Ysgol Treffynnon, we are running wellbeing lessons for our students, looking at a wide range of topics that link to and from wellbeing.

"Simple steps can always help to support anyone, man or woman, struggling with health conditions. A conversation with someone suffering with their mental health can really make a difference and with men's health conditions such as testicular cancer, which is the most common type of cancer in young men, early diagnosis makes outcomes so much better.

"When my cousin committed suicide, it was devastating and completely shook us all. We had an idea that he was struggling with his mental health, but he turned down help when it was offered and therefore, we missed chances to help him.

"After experiencing the loss and shock associated with suicide, I wanted to do my bit to make sure that no other family has to go through that. All too often men keep their feelings bottled up, but a chat with friends and family might help make all the difference, particularly during these difficult times we've all been living through.

"I would like to give credit to the team for joining me in this adventure again, as without them it wouldn't be as successful. I also want to thank the wider staff at Ysgol Treffynnon for their support with my little project and, of course, our students' wonderful parents whose support I have been so thankful for again this year."

The teachers have raised £130 so far but, as far as Darren is concerned, any money raised is a bonus as his main objective is to ensure that important conversations around men's health take place.

• To support the team's fundraising efforts, visit: