Dressage star Carl Hester has pledged his support for a bowel cancer charity following a health scare.

Some small growths were found in the Olympic gold medallist’s bowel eight years ago.

He had them removed and now has annual check-ups.

“The realisation of how serious it could have been hit me,” said Carl. “Even though it wasn’t cancer it was very emotional and traumatic time of my life.”

One of Great Britain’s most successful dressage riders, Carl was on the gold medal-winning team at the London 2012 Olympics.

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He was part of the British team that won silver at the 2015 European Dressage Championships in Aachen and is currently ranked 12th in the world.

Carl, who is mentor to Charlotte Dujardin and part-owner of Valegro, also won team silver at the 2010 World Championships in Kentucky as well as team gold and two individual silvers at the 2011 Europeans.

“Catching [cancer] early is so important. I was lucky, but not everyone is quite so lucky because they find it too late,” he added.

“If you’ve had cancer in the family or you’re worried about symptoms please just get yourself checked out and go see your doctor.”

Carl is supporting the charity Beating Bowel Cancer’s “Decembeard” campaign.

This calls for men to stop shaving for the month of December to raise money for those affected by the disease, which is the UK’s fourth most common cancer.

It is the second biggest cancer killer in the UK and each year around 16,000 people die from it.

More than 41,000 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer annually, but if caught early more than 90% of cases can be treated successfully.

The majority of cases occur in people over the age of 50, but it can affect all ages.

Beating Bowel Cancer is a support and campaigning charity for everyone affected by the condition.

For more information about bowel cancer symptoms and the campaign, click here.