Andy J Lewis MBE
We are delighted to welcome our new patron, Andy J Lewis MBE, European, World and Paralympic Champion! Andy Lewis is a GB Paratriathlete and competes as a through-knee amputee. He lost his leg at just 16 years old, after a serious motorcycle accident. Instead of giving up after this life changing incident, he worked relentlessly to challenge himself and to stay fit and focused and become the best he can be.
For those of you new to Andy’s sport, he couldn’t have picked a harder event to compete in. Not only do you swim and cycle, but you also run. It’s a gruelling event, especially for through-knee amputees, as you also need to take into account the transitions from swim to bike, and bike to run, which are often referred to as the fourth discipline.
Andy has not only achieved European and World Athlete status in the short time that he has competed as a Paratriathlete, but can now proudly add Paralympic Gold Medallist to his ever-expanding repertoire.
Some of Andy’s recent records; 4 x Triathlon gold medallist, 3 x Triathlon silver medallist, 2 x Triathlon bronze medallist, British Champion 2015, World Champion 2016, European Champion 2016 and Rio 2016 Paralympic gold medallist.
When Sue approached Andy, he was really happy to help in any way he could, especially when she explained about how some men who complete big chemotherapy and further operations find it hard to get motivated to get their lives back. His story is an inspiration to us all and shows that giving up is not an option.
On the weekend, he came to The Fountain Inn, Parkend to have some photos with some of our supporters – long time supporter Michelle Powell, Le Tour de Balls cyclist David Eastjnr, and photographer Andy Williams. We also found a few cyclists from the Royal Dean Forest Cycling Club too.
To learn more about Andy’s fantastic achievements, visit his website
Ali Vowles has been broadcasting for the BBC in the west for over 25 years and is a familiar voice and face on your radio and TV. Over the years she has covered everything from murders and scandals to skating ducks and all those magic moments! She has lived in Bath for almost 30 years and hails from Gloucestershire, where she grew up on a farm.
Ali says “I am delighted to be IITB’s first lady patron – what an honour! Over the years I have interviewed so many men who said they were in denial about their health and wouldn’t talk about it – until they finally got ill and it was almost too late. Without exception, it’s always the women in their lives who have made them realise that they can’t put their head in the sands – especially when it comes to something like testicular cancer. So for the record, I am very happy to be the charity’s official nag on the subject!
Ian Downs is Bristol’s “Premier Celebrity” although for legal reasons we should point out that this is a self proclaimed title! Downsy as he is known on the air has worked on commercial radio in Bristol since 2004, currently for SAM fm (previously known as JACK fm), but after 17 years of 4am starts, decided to retire from breakfast radio and take a behind the scenes role looking after programme content for Celador Radio, parent company of Sam FM and The Breeze. However, he still heads up the World of Sport show every Saturday Morning on SAM fm and does various shows on The Breeze all over the South West to “keep his hand in” he says!
A big sports fan, Downsy is also the Match Day Stadium Announcer for Bristol City Football Club, he’s an intrepid reporter for Bristol Rugby TV and the host of their official podcast, as well has being the voice of the Bristol Flyers Basketball Team and Bristol Jet’s Badminton Franchise. He lives in Portishead with his partner and Cassie his faithful Collie/Lab companion and the only girl that will go anywhere near him.
“I first got involved with It’s in the Bag through the legendary Wrecking Ball at The Tunnels. The event really suited the radio brand and the charity really appealed to the profile of our listeners. Once I’d seen the work that the charity does and the difference it makes I knew I had to stay involved. That, and of course they have some fantastic merchandise and anyone that knows me, knows I love the stash!”
You can hear Downsy on Sam’s World of Sport on Saturday Mornings 8-12pm on Sam FM (106.5 FM) or find out more about the life and times of a local Z list celebrity here
Paul Oz’s ‘explosive’ portraits are every bit as exciting as the high-profile clients he’s worked for.
Imagine ‘performance-painting’ live on a yacht for the Monaco Grand Prix, being official licensed artist to Bruce Lee Enterprises and Star Trek, creating artworks for Sir Alex Ferguson, Bradley Wiggins, Pirelli and F1. You couldn’t make it up – but it’s all happening to Paul Oz.
Paul paints on massive canvasses in thick oils, capturing superheroes from the silver screen, rock icons and the high-speed world of Grand Prix. His aim is “to capture characters in a unique way that blows your socks off.”
Paul’s no stranger to charity work, having supported Great Ormond Street and Clic Sargent among others. He has links to the View Gallery in Bristol, and is partly based in Cheltenham – but that’s not the only reason IITB is a cause close to home.
“Upon reading of IITB online, I realised that I was one of the typical men they were talking about. Inexcusable following the shock of the only school friend I still kept in touch with having a close call with testicular cancer a few years ago. I thought it was about time to represent IITB officially.”
Paul Hembery is the motorsport director of Pirelli, the company best known as Formula 1’s exclusive tire supplier. A Yeovil-born man, Paul has a home in Cheltenham but spends most of his time in the Italian metropolis of Milan.
When Paul’s not jet-setting around the world, or brushing shoulders with the stars of F1, the dedicated Bristol City supporter can often be spotted cheering on his team at Ashton Gate!
Paul was drawn to IITB because of the way the charity fund is helping change men’s attitudes towards their health. He recognises that checking your balls can have a huge payoff:
“Men are very good at telling everyone what to do but quite poor at looking after themselves and taking their own health seriously until it’s too late. IITB promotes self awareness of testicular cancer, where men have a real chance of helping themselves save themselves for minimal effort.”
Long-time Bristol City defender Louis Carey needs no introduction to the South-West’s football fans. This self-confessed supporter as well as player has served twenty loyal seasons at the club, sticking it out through the lows of relegation as well as twice winning promotion to the championship.
Louis is passionate about testicular cancer awareness and understands just how vital it is to educate men on how to check their balls.
“I accepted IITB’s invitation to become a patron because if I can be of any help in spreading the word that could save lives then I want to do that. It’s a good charity and I’m proud to be involved.”
Steve’s Twitter profile sums it up by declaring this Somerset cricketer ‘an all-round good ginger egg’. From serving up three-course charity dinners to fostering young talent at the Somerset Academy, the first-class pace bowler loves getting stuck in to good causes.
Steve was IITB’s first patron, stepping up to the plate back in February 2012. His cricketing career has seen him represent his country with the England Lions, and make a big splash at county level in the South-West – playing five years at Gloucestershire before moving to Somerset in 2011.
“I decided to get involved with It’s in the Bag following some close friends being affected by testicular cancer,” Steve explains. “I, like them, was of the thought that it would never happen to me. Unfortunately we aren’t invincible and anything I can do to help It’s in the Bag raise awareness of that is very important to me. Don’t think it will never happen to you. Always check your balls monthly!”