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Fighting for truth and justice for the victims of asbestos
WEDNESDAY 21st MARCH, 2018
A woman who has dedicated her life to helping those affected by the killer substance asbestos has said the next generation need to step up and help those whose lives have been afflicted by the deadly material.
Hope Robertson's tradesman husband, David died after contracting mesothelioma - a fatal cancer in the outer lining of the lung.
An electrician who started out as a 15-year-old apprentice on the Clyde shipyards, Mr Robertson had no idea he was breathing in asbestos fibres which would lead to his death.
Retired typist Mrs Robertson, from Clydebank, said: "The only reason we went to the doctor that day was because he had been losing some weight and struggling to eat and drink.
“We thought he might have caught a wee bug or something but when we were sent to hospital we knew it wasn’t good.”
The GP was concerned about the sound of David’s lungs after listening through a stethoscope and immediately referred the electrician to Gartnavel Hospital.
He died one month later on April 17 – just 52 days after being diagnosed.
Mrs Robertson, 74, said: "I sat on the bed beside him and he just looked up at me, nodded and said ‘You’ll be alright, pet’, shut his eyes and that was it. He just closed his eyes and he passed very peacefully."
Once dubbed a "miracle" substance by the construction industry, asbestos was widely used for insulation and fireproofing throughout the 20th Century.
However the damage done from the substance is now widely known. Inhaling just one fibre can be enough to trigger mesothelioma - with more than 500 people dying from it every year in Scotland.
Clydebank in particular, with its history of heavy industry, means than a high number of people working and living in the area are dealing with asbestos-related diseases, leading it to be dubbed the Asbestos Capital of Europe.
Mrs Robertson now devotes her time volunteering at the Clydebank Asbestos Group (CAG) – a charity she joined 18 years ago, on the very day her husband was diagnosed.
The volunteer organisation -- which helps thousands of people across the west of Scotland who have suffered from asbestos-related diseases -- is this year celebrating its 25th anniversary.
She said now the next generation need to step in to help the loved ones of the 2,600 sufferers asbestos-related diseases who die in the UK every year.
She added: “The use of asbestos might be confined to the history books but its shadow reaches into our present with pain and clouds our future with fear.
“Asbestos-related conditions can take up to 40 years to surface and it’s thought we’ll keep seeing new cases emerge for the next 30 years.
“So the next generation really need to consider what support will be in place because we physically won’t be around for much longer."
FRIDAY 21st APRIL, 2017
The dangers of asbestos exposure and the threat asbestos poses to people of all ages throughout Scotland today were the main themes of a conference held in Glasgow on Friday 21st April.
Glasgow’s Science Centre was an appropriate venue for an event held to highlight that asbestos exposure and asbestos related illnesses are not relics of our industrial past but a public health issue affecting individuals and families in Scotland today.
“Asbestos: Challenges today and the threat to future generations” was organised by Clydebank Asbestos Group in association Asbestos Action, and the event was supported by Digby Brown Solicitors.
The event was opened by Bob Dickie from Clydebank Asbestos Group, who introduced a short film showing the difference the organisations’ vital work makes (see below), a theme which was echoed by Douglas McAllister, Provost of West Dunbartonshire Council.
Clydebank Asbestos Group's Bob Dickie opening the event.
Attendees from across Scotland heard from medical and legal experts, including Consulting Engineer Robin Howie, Dr Alistair Dorward, Respiratory Consultant and Jan Devlin, Mesothelioma & Lund Cancer Clinical Nurse Specialist.
Legal victories on behalf of victims of asbestos exposure
Fraser Simpson, Head of Digby Brown’s specialist Industrial Disease department, provided a legal update; highlighting recent landmark court decisions Digby Brown have secured which are helping victims of asbestos exposure across Scotland.
Digby Brown Partner Fraser Simpson addressing attendees.
Asbestos in schools – public health threat
The presence of asbestos in school buildings and the urgent public health threat it poses in Scotland was the central theme of the afternoon session. The conference heard from Sarah Lyons, an official with the National Union of Teachers and a member of the Joint Union Asbestos Committee (JUAC) in England and Wales.
Sarah Lyons discussed the results of a recent JUAC report which showed that asbestos is still present in up to 75% of schools in England, and the work the group has done to raise awareness of the public health threat in this area, including securing a Department for Education review of its Asbestos Policy for Schools and new guidance to schools on dealing with the threat.
Clydebank Asbestos Group - how we can help
THURSDAY 6th APRIL, 2017
The Beatson cancer Centre in Glasgow is the first in Scotland to begin offering a surgical procedure to end the severe pain experienced by those with an asbestos-related cancer.
Asbestos-related disease is caused by exposure to asbestos dust. Many people don’t realise they have the disease for a long time after as symptoms can take decades to develop.
There are four types of asbestos disease and the worst of them is Mesothelioma, an asbestos-related cancer.
Clydebank Asbestos Group welcomes the development
This new development is very much welcomed by Clydebank Asbestos Group who have first-hand experience of asbestos disease and have been campaigning to raise awareness of this disease.
Hope Robertson, the group’s secretary, has been working with the charity for a number of years and says:
“Anything that’s going to improve a life of the sufferer has got to be good. My husband died from mesothelioma so I know personally what a big help this will be and quite honestly it’s long overdue.”
Clydebank named Asbestos capital of Europe
Clydebank used to have a high amount of heavy industry in the area which used asbestos and unfortunately many people working and living in this area contracted an asbestos related disease. As a result, the area was named Asbestos Capital of Europe.
With this new development it means mesothelioma sufferers living in Clydebank and Glasgow have somewhere close by they can go to access this procedure.
For the full story, please see http://www.clydebankpost.co.uk/news/15208717.Beatson_becomes_first_to_offer_procedure_for_asbestos_caused_cancer/
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