Burnley legend Barry Kilby's unrelenting mission to save more lives through prostate cancer appeal
The memories that Barry Kilby has helped create at Turf Moor will live on for as long as there is a Burnley Football Club.
However, it is his work off the pitch in recent years that is unquestionably having an even bigger impact on people’s lives.
On Saturday, June 1st, The Barry Kilby Prostate Cancer Appeal will hold its sixth testing day at Turf Moor.
And 70-year-old Barry, who is now vice-chairman at the club, told the Express: “I would be surprised if we don’t save 15 to 20 men’s lives on June 1st.”
It is a startling estimate but one that is backed up by facts.
Since the first testing day held at Turf Moor in 2015, more than 1,900 men from the Burnley community have been tested; 211 of these were referred for further tests and treatments.
The PSA test saves lives and few know this better than Barry.
He was chairman of Burnley when he received an urgent phone call from his doctor in 2012.
“I’ll always remember it. I was at Cheltenham Races and I got a call. All they said was, ‘Come now, quick’. My PSA test was 80 and that is high. A normal PSA reading is usually under three. Once it starts creeping up to 10 that’s when you have problems.
“It was part of a general medical I was having. It really was by accident but I have had excellent treatment and it’s been kept at bay.
“The PSA test saved my life without a shadow of a doubt. Without it I would have been way down the line because it is a cancer that more often than not has no real symptoms. And it’s a real killer as well; it kills around 12,000 men a year.
“The big thing though was that if I had had the test earlier, it could have been halted and stopped totally.”
With the Burnley testing day now established as an annual event, Barry has been looking to expand operations.
Football clubs including Rochdale, Oldham, Blackburn, Preston, Ipswich and Charlton have all now held testing days in conjunction with The Barry Kilby Prostate Cancer Appeal and he’s not stopping there.
“One of the problems with the PSA, which is a simple blood test, is that well, men don’t go to the doctors. But men will go with their mates to the football ground and these clubs can also generate a lot of publicity around it as well. So with that in mind we thought, ‘Let’s give it a try and have one at Burnley’. And it’s gone on from there.
“We’re getting more and more clubs involved and we’re slowly creeping into the Premier League now as well.”
One testing day costs in the region of £7,000. People are asked to make a donation of £5 on the day - an average test costs around £25 - with the charity then making up the shortfall.
“Obviously we are not going to turn people away and we will still test them but we do ask that towards it,” said Barry. “Most clubs gives us their facilities for free so that helps but there is a considerable shortfall to make up and that is why the fundraising activities are extremely important to us.”
A group of 26 cyclists recently returned home from a monumental bike ride to Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge via Belgium and France in order to raise money for the appeal.
And at the Burnley game on Sunday, from 2pm in the Fan Zone, Anthony B. Carter and Ryan Strange will be having their beard and head shaved, respectively, to help boost funds.
Barry even released a paperback version of his ‘As Good As Some’ short story last year with all funds raised from sales also going to the appeal.
“The fundraising side is so important,” he said. “The lads who did the bike ride have raised more than £20,000 which is incredible and they will be presenting us with a cheque on the testing day in June. We’re also going to be having a collection on Sunday at Turf Moor so hopefully that raises a bit of money and awareness.
“We are really determined to get this out there.”
The next PSA testing day will be held at Turf Moor, in the James Hargreaves Stand, on Saturday, June 1st, from 10am to 1pm. The testing days are aimed at people aged over 45.
For more information on the appeal, including ways to donate, visit www.theBKPCA.com.