One of Lancashire’s premier amateur rugby league clubs has quite literally bared all this Christmas to raise vital money for those recovering from colostomy procedures.
Chorley Panthers RLFC have produced their own naked calendar for 2019 to raise money for Colostomy UK and the club’s junior teams.
It comes after Panthers star Kav Ellison had a stoma – an operation on the large intestines – in 2015 after being diagnosed with ulcerative colitis.
Head coach Mick Oxley said: “Kav plays for us and had this operation a few years ago so we decided to give a bit back to those who helped him. The photos were only taken three weeks ago; it was bloody cold that’s for sure!
“We come up with the idea after the season to raise a bit of money so it was done pretty quickly. They’re only being delivered this week and we’ve sold quite a few already – they’ll be ready for Christmas if anyone wants one.”
Kav, 28, has played for the club since he was 14. He said: “For the last nine months there’s been a bit of momentum for Team Colostomy UK, which is run by Colostomy UK.”
The team, which Kav is an ambassador for, is Colostomy UK’s official rugby league club, which aims to tackle stigma attached to stoma and show that those with a colostomy bag can carry out ordinary lives - including playing contact sports.
Kav has also received a lot of support from Chorley-native Warrington Wolves winger, Josh Charnley.
Kav said: “I grew up with Josh in the Panthers’ youth team, he’s a good friend of mine. He’s done a few things [for Colostomy UK] now and we’re hoping to get something organised in Chorley soon.”
Josh said: “I’m a fond supporter of both Chorley Panthers and Colostomy UK, Chorley being my childhood club and the charity being so close to Kav.
"It’s a pleasure to help out when I can and the naked calendar that the Panthers have done is a brilliant fundraiser for all involved.”
Giovanni Cinque from Colostomy UK said the charity is “delighted” to have been chosen by the Panthers as benefits of the calendar.
He said: “Colostomy UK are delighted that Chorley Panthers have selected us as their charity of choice to benefit from sales of their calendar.
"We have a great relationship with them and two of their players, Kav Ellison and Matty Bell Also represent our own charity Rugby League side, Team Colostomy UK.
"There is still a stigma to stoma surgery in society and it is very much a hidden condition.
"People can suffer from bad body image, anxiety, and depression which can often lead to isolation. Gestures such as this from the Panthers will only help us to tackle the stoma stigma.”
• Calendars are online at www.colostomyuk.bigcartel.com/product/chorley-panthers-2019-calendar