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A special memorial was held in Glasgow to remember those who have died from an asbestos related condition.
Phyllis Craig MBE:
Each year we hold a memorial but this year’s event has a special significance as it is being held on Action Mesothelioma Day.
Throughout the UK, charities and organisations who work to support people with an asbestos related disease hold events on 1st July each year to raise awareness of mesothelioma and of the needs of those diagnosed. Each year, the numbers attending our memorial increases, and we expect around 100 people to attend this year, all of whom have lost a partner, a mother or father, a close relative or a friend. We must remember them and send a strong message that the legacy of extensive use of asbestos in the UK continues to blight our communities. This is not something that belongs in the past or that can be ignored. We will not allow it to be ignored, and events like this not only help to raise awareness of the damage caused by asbestos, but provide a place where people can come together, support each other and share some time with others who have also experienced loss.
John Curran lost his father to mesothelioma in 2013. John and nine members of his family travel from Ayrshire to attend the memorial every year:
My dad was only 66 when he died, and he left us too early. Our family have been robbed of our life with him and he is sorely missed. We can go to his grave every day to remember, but we go to the memorial to honour him. My father and thousands of others died because they went to work and was not given any protection or warning about just how dangerous asbestos was. Our family cannot forget, and our country should not forget. The memorial means a lot to our family because it allows us to honour not just my father, but everyone who has lost their life to asbestos.
Councillor Nina Baker has spoken to families who have been affected by an asbestos related disease and supports the need for an annual memorial, stating:
More women and men are being diagnosed than ever before and we have a duty to stop on this important day to remember those who have died from an illness that could have been avoided if employers had acted in the interests of their employees rather than in the interests of their business. It is a powerful reminder of the damage that can be caused if profit is put before people.
There are around 5000 deaths in the UK each year from mesothelioma and asbestos related lung cancer. Whilst it is mainly men that are diagnosed with mesothelioma, an increasing number of women are being diagnosed.
Phyllis Craig MBE:
We are seeing more women who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma. Their exposure occurred in a wide range of occupations including healthcare, education and factories. When a woman is diagnosed with mesothelioma, her doctor will often assume that her exposure must have been through washing her husband’s overalls. However, it is important that the doctor asks about her own working life as in many cases the woman will have been directly exposed to asbestos through her own work.
Laura Blane of Thompsons Solicitors added
If a doctor has recorded in hospital case notes that a female patient was exposed to asbestos through her husband’s overalls, and has not enquired about her own exposure at work, this can be problematic. In my experience, it is often the case that they were actually exposed through their own employment and can pursue a civil case against their employer. It can cause difficulties if the hospital case notes contradict how exposure occurred. I see the devastating effect a diagnosis of mesothelioma has on families, and we certainly do not want a civil case to be prolonged for a reason such as this.
David Moxham, Deputy General Secretary STUC and Director of CAA added
I have been attending CAA’s memorial for some years now and I am always struck by how poignant the memorial is. It gives us all time to pause and reflect on the reality of the damage caused by asbestos being used so extensively in the UK. Asbestos can be found in any building built before the year 2000 and it is estimated that 20 tradespeople will die from an asbestos condition each week. This is an unacceptable figure and it is clear that asbestos related disease is going to be with us for decades to come.
Jan Devlin, Macmillan Mesothelioma Specialist Nurse [supported by Mesothelioma UK], at Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth hospital:
As the only Mesothelioma Clinical Nurse Specialist in Scotland, I see daily the impact that a diagnosis of mesothelioma has on the person with the condition and on their family. My priority is to ensure that support and information is available from diagnosis onwards. Clydeside Action on Asbestos provide a unique source of support and advice to the person following diagnosis, and the memorial is a much needed way of continuing that support once someone has died.
Compensation and Benefits