A MAN who lost the love of his life to skin cancer has urged people to protect themselves from the sun as official figures reveal hospital admissions for malignant melanoma have risen 41% in five years.

Harry Townsend’s wife Myfanwy died from malignant melanoma – thought to have been caused after being seriously sunburnt as a child.

Mr Townsend, 78, of East Grinstead, said yesterday: “All she ever wanted was to be a grandmother and she died before three of our grandchildren were born.

“Before she died we knew she had melanoma and we were going to set up a campaign together. We thought she would survive, but I’m still doing it for her.

“I met a man who told me his wife was 38 and died of melanoma, his children were aged between two and eight.

“I thought it was a personally crusade but it’s not any more. It’s for people like him who have a farm to run and kids to look after and to stop other families suffering the same.

“People are gradually becoming aware but not fast enough.

“Parents and teachers need to get into the habit of encouraging children to be covered up regularly throughout the day.

“When I was young we used to cover ourselves in olive oil to get brown and attract ladies.”

Official figures by Public Health England yesterday showed that the number of hospital admissions for skin cancer treatment in England rose from 87,685 in 2007 to 123,808 in 2011. This study does not include treatment in outpatients units or by GPs.

The study also revealed a 30% increase in admissions for melanoma treatment, the most serious type of skin cancer, in English hospitals over the five-year period, in an addition to a 43 % increase in non-melanoma skin cancer admissions.

To find out more about Mr Townsend’s charity the Myfanwy Townsend Melanoma Research Fund visit www.melanoma-fund.co.uk.