Christmas is a time of year when we all get involved with certain traditions. Hanging the mistletoe, brussels sprouts, mince pies, Christmas trees, office parties, so the list goes on…. And it’s no different for retired police officer Barry Frost, 59, from Exeter. However one of Barry’s festive traditions is a tad more unusual than most.
For the last 14 years Barry has gathered a group of colleagues and friends together who take off their clothes in the great outdoors to feature on the front of Barry’s light-hearted Christmas cards.
In the past these cards have been for personal use, with Barry sending them out to his nearest and dearest. Each year the theme of the cards is slightly different, and the naked participants strategically place various objects to preserve modesty.
But this time is a bit different, rather than just doing it for fun, Barry and friends are baring all in the name of a very good cause.
Barry’s dad John Frost, 85 from Exeter, has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. So for the first time Barry is extending the reach of his cards. He is producing them in bulk and selling to the general public to raise funds for local charity Hospiscare, who are supporting his dad.
Barry explains: “The first time we took a photo for these cards 14 years ago, I was working as a Police Officer and we wore our uniforms. The photo shoot took place outside Middlemoor Police Headquarters in Exeter. The second year I was down in Perranporth in Cornwall and did the photo with the Surf Life Saving Club. It was the club that suggested next time we go naked.
“Back then it was a case of printing off a photo and literally sticking it on a card, so a real homemade effort. It seemed like a fun and personal way to send cards. Christmas is the only time of the year you get a chance to tell all your friends you love them. So I like to make an effort.
“From then onwards people came to expect this ‘alternative card’ from me. I’ve had friends who say they have kept every card I’ve done in the last 14 years and stowed them in a special box. So it’s become a tradition that I have to keep going.
“This year is especially poignant as my dad is ill and of the 15 men featured on the card, three have experienced cancer personally and two have fathers with serious illnesses that need support from Hospiscare. So this time round we wanted to highlight Hospiscare and the fact it’s a local charity. Before my dad was ill I didn’t really understand what a hospice does. I knew it was something to do with death but had no idea what an amazing charity Hospiscare is. It’s wonderful, I just can’t fault it.
“Before this happened my dad had always been fit. 1942 was the last time he had visited a hospital. But this spring he became unwell and got jaundice. After various tests they diagnosed cancer and confirmed it wasn’t curable. He started treatment which improved things but he has been in and out of hospital since. At times we thought we were losing him. But they give him a drip and some oxygen and he seems to bounce back.
Dad is brilliant, he just gets on with it. He is always thanking people, even when he is in hospital being injected he is still saying thank you!
“Dad used to be an engineer and he lives opposite the building site where Ikea is being constructed. So he’s over there all the time, chatting to the workmen. Everyone loves him, they have even invited him to the Ikea opening.
“Good things have also come out of doing the cards, and all the guys need a big round of applause for taking part. The three guys with cancer and the two with the connection to Hospiscare found it particularly uplifting. There was a great atmosphere on the day, a lot of camaraderie between the lads. The photo shoot was at Escot House and after the initial undressing everyone lost their inhibitions. We were all comfortable, although it was a bit cold. At one point a family walked past and I was a bit worried they would be affronted. But luckily it’s the British way to cheer on a bit of cheek, so they did just that and didn’t seem at all offended. It must have looked quite comical as we had all hung our underpants on a tree so they didn’t get wet!
“I hope the cards will go down well with the wider public and bring a smile to the faces of the people of Devon. All the proceeds from the sales go directly to Hospiscare, so more people like Dad can get the help they need when facing a terminal illness. You can buy them at any of the Hospiscare shops or from Topsham Hair Design, so please support the charity and pick some up.
“I have to give a mention to all the participants who gave their time and services for free to produce these Christmas Cards. So special thanks to Acanthus Press, our photographer Achrefghanmi.co.uk and our hosts at Escot House. The models (from left to right) are; Steve Williams, Stefan Phillips, Paul Webber, Dan Fleming, Richard Brown, Barry Frost, Matt Taylor, Jason Steele, Steve Conabeer, Dave Smith, Ryan Goldsmith, Tim Swarbrick, Dave Haines, Jim Lewis-Clarke and Tony Pallet.
“Merry Christmas everyone!”
Hospiscare is a local adult hospice charity, providing free, high quality care and support to people with any type of terminal illness, and those close to them, in Exeter, Mid and East Devon. A gift to Hospiscare in your Will helps to ensure the future of the charity in Devon for generations to come.