OLYMPIC sailing silver medalist Luke Patience from Helensburgh is taking on bowel cancer by shaving off his beard for the charity campaign Decembeard.

Beating Bowel Cancer’s Decembeard campaign asks men to grow a beard for the month of December to raise awareness of bowel cancer in men and raise funds for the charity to help them support all those affected by the disease.

Luke will be shaving off his beard on December 1 and growing it again throughout the month to fundraise for the charity.

Luke, 30, has a very personal reason for backing the campaign as Elliot Willis, his crewman for the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics, had to pull out before the games when he was diagnosed with bowel cancer.

In July 2014 Luke and Elliot won a gold medal at the 470 European Championship event held in Athens. They also won a silver medal at the test event for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and finished in fourth place at the 2014 ISAF Sailing World Championships.

Based on these results the pair were selected to represent Great Britain at the 2016 Summer Olympics in the men's 470 class.

However in March 2016 Luke was forced to find a new partner after Elliot had to withdraw in order to undertake treatment for his cancer.

Luke said: “Elliot is still mid treatment. He's currently undergoing immunotherapy and has a great quality of life back. Really though, it's still a waiting game and about continuing treatment.

“I always thought that bowel cancer only affected older people but it doesn’t. If someone as young and fit as Elliot can be diagnosed with the disease, then anyone can.

"That’s why I’m supporting Beating Bowel Cancer’s Decembeard campaign. It raises funds for a great cause and helps to spread awareness of the disease, which could lead to people being diagnosed earlier and that could save their lives.”

Over the last five years thousands of men around the UK have supported the campaign. The funds raised for the charity have enabled them to provide help, hope and reassurance to a great many bowel cancer patients and their families.

Luke added: “If you’re willing to go grizzly throughout December, dye or decorate your existing face fur or hold a ‘beardy’ event in the local area, please sign up for www.decembeard.org today and join the hairy band of brothers taking on bowel cancer beard by beard.Or you can sponsor me at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/luke-patience-decembeard-2016”.

For more information about the charity visit www.beatingbowelcancer.org