PETER Jackson is looking forward to summer, a year after being diagnosed with skin cancer.

Until his cancer was confirmed, Peter never gave a second thought to being out in the sun.

Now he’s the front man for Wye Valley Health Trust’s latest sun protection campaign.

Peter, aged 57, from Ledbury, spent long periods working in the sun during his RAF service.

Back then, he says, you didn’t cover up or use sun cream – just took your shirt off.

It’s that long exposure he believes so nearly cost him his life.

Luckily, Peter’s cancer was caught at a critical time to remove the affected skin, which he says was the size of a 12oz steak. It’s not all over, though, as he needs regular check-ups at Hereford’s cancer unit for the next five years.

Skin cancer counts for more than a third of all cancers in the UK and the number of cases locally is rising.

Of the 2,000 referrals to Hereford’s County Hospital last year for dermatological problems one in five of these patients had suspected skin cancer.

Peter’s started with an itchy mole that needed a biopsy after being seen by a GP.

“I was devastated to be told I had skin cancer,” he said.

“But it was caught at a critical stage and I’m lucky to be alive thanks to the outstanding care and treatment received at the County Hospital’s Macmillan Renton Unit.

“I cannot emphasise enough how important it is to cover up during the hottest part of the day, use sun cream protection, and see your GP if you have any concerns about your skin and moles, particularly for men who find it difficult to open up about these things.”

Pauline Featonby, Macmillan skin cancer nurse with the trust, recommended high factor sunscreen of at least SPF 30 with UVA and UVB protection.

She added: “If you notice any changes on your skin to moles such as size, shape, colour, texture, itchiness, development of a new mole or other growth, particularly if it feels hard, or any mole or other growth that spontaneously bleeds, get it checked by your GP.

“Skin cancer is very treatable, if caught early.”