Putting sun protection on the radar

03 May 22
Personal watercraft

Most of us could improve our sun protection habits, and now there’s no excuse, as awareness around this important health and safety routine is about to get ‘super-charged’, thanks to Sunguarding Sport, a new campaign by the Melanoma Fund, supported by the RYA.


Sportspeople receive substantially higher UV exposure, and routinely exceed the recommended exposure limits, increasing their risk of sun damage and skin cancer. Factors such as sweating, water contact, minimal clothing, and lack of shade, make it even more relevant, however, only 50% currently sun protect when exercising outdoors*.

Since the early 1990s, rates of non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) have risen in the UK by 170%, with over 156,000 cases reported a year**. This equates to a staggering 430 people a day receiving a diagnosis that could have been mainly prevented with adequate sun protection.

The solution

Sunguarding Sport is a free resource that provides a systematic approach to educate and raise awareness of sun protection to all in sport and outdoor recreation. It provides guidelines, sport specific advice (created in partnership with each governing body) and a toolkit of downloadable materials, designed to be shared to participants, spectators, and officials, by organisations, groups and clubs. 

Written by experts

The guidelines have been approved by Professor Brian Diffey and Dr Elizabeth Blakeway Manning, and features topics such as which sunscreen to use, type of clothing, tips on application and shade, how to avoid or deal with heatstroke, sunburn, heat exhaustion, dehydration and much more.

Top tips

The campaign’s top five tips include:

  1. UV radiation cannot be seen or felt, so check the UV Index daily, and use sun protection when it reads 3 or over.
  2. A short training session can last for hours, so get into the habit of being sun prepared before you start any outdoor activity.
  3. Sunscreen can wear, wash, rub or sweat off, so reapply every two hours or more often when around water.
  4. To avoid a greasy grip, use a sunscreen applicator or clean palms with a small towel and alcohol gel.
  5. When removing clothing on a warm day, remember to apply sunscreen to all newly exposed areas of skin.


A team of Sunguard ambassadors has been elected from all areas of the sports industry, each working on a voluntary basis to highlight the importance of the campaign’s messages, within their own sport, and across the board.

Lisa Wainwright is the CEO of the Activity & Recreation Alliance, and was one of the first Sunguards on board, says: “We are incredibly proud to support such an important initiative and I look forward to raising awareness on this crucial topic.

"The place that sport has in society has never been more important than at this moment in time, not just for physical health, but mental, social and community wellbeing, and so it is vital that everyone feels like they can participate, work, or spectate in the sector safely.”

For further details visit www.melanoma-fund.co.uk

* Cancer Research UK 2020

** Cancer Research UK website