Doctors, nurses and politicians descended on Harrow town centre to raise awareness about digestive health.

Mayor of Harrow Councillor Nana Asante and Harrow West MP Gareth Thomas spoke at the event, which was held on St Ann’s Road to mark bowel awareness day.

A range of free activities were on offer, including a walk-through inflatable bowel, face painting and a balloon race. Staff from St Mark’s Hospital also gave advice on digestive health.

Cllr Asante said: “The event is essential for raising awareness about bowel illnesses. Often we wait too long to get help.

“People get quite embarrassed about it all because they do not want to talk about faeces.”

Bowel diseases affect the part of the digestive system below the stomach, and they include Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory illness, and bowel cancer.

Mr Thomas was quick to point out that Harrow has some of the best facilities in the world for treating bowel diseases.

He said: “St Mark’s Hospital is quite simply a global leader. They have some of the top doctors and specialists available for bowel cancer.

“This event lets people in Harrow know they have a world class facility on their door step.”

St Mark’s, which was founded in 1835, is the world’s oldest hospital specialising in bowel health.

Anthony Cummings, director of St Mark’s Hospital Foundation, said: “We have people from all over the world who give us money. We have oligarchs and royals using our hospital.

“It means we are able to do original cutting edge research, like trying to be the first in the world to grow new bowel tissue for patients.”

Robert Azevedo-Gilbert, chairman of the friends of St Mark’s Hospital, the group that organised the event, told people with symptoms of bowel cancer such as stomach pain and inexplicable weight loss to see their doctor straight away.