Motorcycles And Motives Go

Posted 1 year ago

Normal for many men of his generation, Paul Arnott grew up viewing men’s health as a taboo topic that exposed ‘weaknesses’. Taught to ‘tough it out’, there were never any conversations around health, where instead ‘ignoring’ how you really felt was the norm. It wasn’t until 2016, when Sydneysider Paul showed up to ride in the world’s largest charity motorcycling event, The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride (DGR), that this dangerous message ingrained in him, started to shift.

With the DGR just around the corner, we sat down with Paul to talk about all things DGR and how this dapper event changed the course of his life. Today, Paul is an advocate for men’s health, thanks to the DGR community, positively impacting not only his own life but the lives of many around him.

Can you tell us a little about yourself and your love of motorbikes?

I run a motorcycle import and sales business, specialising in road Trials motorcycles mainly from Spain. I got slightly carried away with my hobby and ended up with a full-time job.

I was always one of those kids that had to tinker with stuff and build things. First, it was Tonka trucks in the sand pit, then scooters, skateboards, push bikes, homemade go karts, and eventually motorbikes. It was a natural progression really! So, it’s a love of the mechanical, as well as the thrill and freedom of riding that is so intoxicating.

What does being part of the rider community mean to you?

Exposure to such a diverse group of passionate people that I would’ve never usually met, coming together over a common love that glues us together. I have amazing, lifelong friendships that started hanging on to a set of handlebars.

Can you tell us about your involvement with DGR and why you think DGR is such an important event?

My first event was in 2016, which I just turned up to and rode. I was attracted to it because it was about old or cool bikes, it wasn’t until a few years in that I really started to take on board the “ulterior motive” and by osmosis discover more about Movember, DGR, and the real work being done supporting men’s health.

What do you think you get out of being part of DGR?

First and foremost, it is a massively fun day spent with like-minded people. The getting “dapper”, the ride… it really is a fabulous event. More importantly, it provides that nudge many need to either take control of their own health or check in on friends and family.

On a personal level, apart from the great photos and the lifesaving friendships, DGR was the spark that saved my life.

Could you talk a little about your cancer journey, and how being involved with DGR encouraged you to get checked?

Early in 2020, I decided to go and have a medical. I had no symptoms and considered myself healthy and fit. I was competing regularly in Off Road Moto-trials and leading a very active lifestyle, but there was that niggling little Mark Hawwa (founder of DGR) on my shoulder whispering “the message”. Long story short, I was diagnosed with stage 3 bowel cancer. Today, I am cancer free and have a new belly button and a matching smiley face under it.

How would your life be different if you hadn’t taken part in DGR?

Without the health messages I learnt from years participating in DGR, I doubt if I would have gone and got checked. I really do thank DGR for the motivation to make that first appointment with the doctor and my subsequent survival.

You said you are very open about your cancer journey and that you talk about it a lot, can you explain why you think it’s important and the influence this has had on people around you?

It’s important because my journey had a successful outcome, but not everyone’s does. I had a rapid recovery after surgery and was blown away with the support of the DGR family. I feel better than I ever have mentally thanks to the overwhelming amount of people who care about me.

Through being open about my journey, it has encouraged my mates to take control of their health. I let all my friends know about my diagnosis because I didn’t want anyone else to experience what I was going through. Two of my buddies ended up with similar circumstances – they got checked because I made a song and dance about it. Thankfully, they both caught it early and as a result have had good outcomes.

Could you talk a little about DGR fundraising, where the money goes, and why the money raised is so important?

The programs that DGR and Movember help fund work from the grassroots level up. There still exists great inequities in cancer care, but the funds raised through DGR can help change that and save lives.

Why do you believe in the work Movember does?

On a purely selfish level, it’s meant that I’m still alive and kicking and so are a bunch of my friends too, hopefully for a good while yet. It’s amazing to think that this started with one small idea and the positive global health outcomes that have come from it.

For many men, health is still a taboo subject. Together, DGR and Movember are working to change that by connecting communities and creating environments where important conversations can be had. The DGR is an event Paul looks forward to every year and he’s certain that there’s something in it for everyone. To find out more about DGR, your local ride, and the different ways you can get involved, check out The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride here.