28 November 2022

Rowing 1,000,000 meters for Movember

In the Barber’s Chair with Million Metre Men
In the Barber Chair
Friends Ben Cullen and George Fleming have set out to row 1,000,000 metres in the month of November with the aim of raising funds for Movember and increasing awareness of men’s health.

They have been taking their rowing machines to 20 different locations in Hong Kong, over 30 days, to raise donations and awareness for the Movember Foundation. The rationale for moving the rowers to different spots is to gain access to different communities and educate the public about the health crises that men face.  Spotted all across Hong Kong, the Million Metre Men and their rowers have popped up at the AIA Observation Wheel, The Peak, on the streets, on the beaches and even at the well-timed Rugby Sevens. 
This is an epic mission!  Tell us why you decided to take on this challenge?
We have been raising funds and promoting Movember for five years, but believe the message and what it stands for are only reaching certain demographics in Hong Kong. This challenge has been put together to create huge, online and in person, awareness to help keep men alive. We have seen the devastating impact that these health issues have had in our own community and we can’t afford to stay silent anymore.
Why is Movember important to you?
This answer is constantly evolving, as our education grows around the cause areas that Movember tackles combined with meeting case studies, our why has changed. Initially it was about simply raising funds for men overall, but as our learning increases, we realise how preventable all three areas are. We now have a duty to educate and keep speaking up!
In addition to this we have witnessed first-hand how mental health can disrupt men and their communities around them. It’s time for men to start talking and I want to drive this conversation further through this challenge.  I am squeezing every drop out of life and I want every man to feel the same.
We are both former rugby players that have beat up bodies. Sitting on a rower for 2 hours a day will be a brutal mental and physical challenge, but it’s a small price to pay if we are to spark the conversation and raise crucial funds for men in need.
You have secured phenomenal support, from sponsors, venue hosts and more.  Why do you think this has been so successful and any tips on your approach?
We have experience in running large scale events through our company The GOT Group. We have leveraged the skills from this, combined it with our network and put together a ridiculous challenge. This has resulted in an army of people helping out as well as donating. We would also be happy to say that we believe we do business the right way, “how can everyone win” is our approach. Through this mantra and consistent execution we have built a strong reputation in the city, it’s much easier for people to get on board once you have good track record.
Have you found this challenge more physically or mentally difficult or both?
This is a tough question to answer and we would also say there are three “stress” areas. Physical, Mental and Logistical! Each location has been very different and what approach worked for one, didn’t necessarily work for the next. The bonus of there being two of us, is that if one of you is having a tough day, the other can lift you up and keep you moving!
You’ve hit some iconic locations in Hong Kong and must have met some interesting people along the way.  Tell us about your most memorable moments.
We have had some really special days in amazing places and had great conversations with so many incredible people, every day truly has been so different.
AIA Hong Kong Observation Wheel - Our opening party with our closest friends and sponsors at Hong Kong’s most photographed landmark! Finally getting to the start line and being able to shout out what we were doing and what Movember does was the perfect start.
Sai Kung Pier - Both of us are expatriates living in this wonderful city. In the beautiful Sai Kung area, the population is 99% Hong Kong locals and when they saw what we were doing they were so intrigued. This is the main reason why we wanted to move to different spots, we were able to engage with and educate a completely different audience on a beautiful Sunday afternoon.
The avenue of stars - This is the walkway that overlooks the beautiful Hong Kong skyline, our pictures and videos for the evening were destined to be our best yet! Unfortunately, the chips did not fall in our favour and we were moved by security twice and thankfully an outdoor bar allowed us to complete our metres in there. This was memorable for the wrong reasons unfortunately!