“Movember” – a cause close to the heart

Words by William Ryan (Year 11) on behalf of St Helena Secondary College

Brett Linsell (centre) and his FaceFuzz team. Supplied by Caitlin Fecondo

Brett Linsell, a teacher at St Helena Secondary College, has been raising money for Movember for the last 12 years and has continued to raise money through his time at St Helena since 2015. When he first arrived in April 2015, he set up team FaceFuzz (team name), which has since raised $25,880 over the last seven years for Movember.  

Movember is a charity that encourages men each year to grow a moustache over November to raise awareness around health issues such as suicide prevention, prostate cancer and testicular cancer. Brett first started his involvement with Movember back in 2011 when he was at Craigieburn Secondary College. He and four other teachers decided they wanted to raise money. At first, Brett didn’t “really take [Movember] that seriously.” But in 2013, Brett’s mentor teacher committed suicide, which really hit close to home. 

In the late 1990s, in Brett’s second year of teaching, he started a teaching job at a Prep-12 school near the Otway Ranges. Brett recalls his mentor teacher Andrew, as being someone who “had all the answers” to all the questions for an inexperienced teacher like Brett. He was also very “positive and talented;” he could teach from Prep to Year 12 and was well liked by all the kids. Andrew also got Brett involved in the local community. So, when Andrew committed suicide, it was a shock since he was active there, and only in his mid-40s. This gave Brett a personal connection to Movember, and prompted him to take it more seriously.  

When Brett first moved to St Helena Secondary College in 2015, he was able to launch St Helena’s Movember team FaceFuzz, and the team started to raise money. Before the fundraiser of 2022, FaceFuzz had raised $18,867 dollars and was looking to raise a modest $1,800 to get over the $20,000 mark. Brett was extremely happy when the team ended up raising $7,013. He did not expect that much money to be raised because of the impacts of Covid-19 and the financial hardships that many families faced. Brett found support from friends and family which has helped raise the money. He was also able to raise money through school events such as the staff trivia night that was promoted through the school’s social media pages. Brett has found the biggest financial contributions from the Rotary Club of Eltham, of which he is a member. Individual members of the club have generously supported Brett for many years.  

Brett has found that Movember has opened up the conversation for men aged 40 years and older around men’s health, especially around prostate and testicular cancer.  It has also opened up the conversation around mental health – normally considered a taboo subject for men. Brett hopes that in the future more staff can come on board for Movember, helping to boost the awareness of Movember in the community and raise even more money.