As Swindon gears up for what could be another scorcher of a summer, people who work outside are being urged to cover up and protect themselves in the sun.   

The warning comes as the NHS once again launches its Cover Up, Mate campaign, a three-month drive to encourage people who spend large amounts of time outdoors - such as builders, farmers, delivery workers and sports players - to take extra care not to fall victim to the sun's potentially harmful UV rays. 

Research has shown that even the occasional sunburn - in some cases, as little as once every two years - can triple a person's risk of developing skin cancer. 

Yet many people, some of whom wouldn't think twice about applying sun cream when on holiday, often shun protection when going about their daily business. 

It's a particular problem in the South West of England, where rates of skin cancer are much higher than those of the national average. 

Between 2013 and 2017, nearly 60,000 people across England were diagnosed with skin cancer, with more than 8,000 of those coming from the South West. 

For the same period, Swindon saw 276 people receive the news they had skin cancer. 

Dr Michael Marsh, NHS England South West Medical Director, said: "You can't feel UV radiation, so it's very easy to get burned by the sun in the UK, even when it's cloudy and not particularly warm. 

"Sunburn increased the likelihood of skin cancer, so it's important for people to take care, especially those who work outside or take part in outdoor sport." 

As well as those who work outside, people with fair skin, moles or freckles also have a higher risk of developing skin cancer. 

Skin experts from the NHS have issued the following advice for staying safe in the summer sun: 

  • Wherever possible, spend time in shaded areas
  • Avoid sunburn at all costs
  • Cover up with loose fitting clothing
  • Wear hats and sunglasses
  • Use a sun cream with a factor rating of 15 or above

Somerset beef farmer Judith is one person who now takes extra precautions when working outside after being diagnosed with skin cancer. 

She said: "I make sure I apply sun cream before going out, irrespective if the sun is shining or it's raining. 

"You can bet your bottom dollar that later in the day the weather will change, and I always make sure to reapply at lunch time." 

For more advice on staying safe in the sun, visit www.nhs.uk or use #CoverUpMate to search for information on social media.