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Clydebank Asbestos Group (CAG) celebrate 30 years of supporting victims of asbestos-related disease

Updated: Oct 19, 2022

CAG celebrated 30 years of campaigning and supporting victims of asbestos-related disease with an event on Friday 14th October 2022.

More than 100 distinguished guests flocked to the Golden Jubilee Conference Hotel to honour the charity for three decades of fighting for truth and justice. Among those who attended were MSP Marie McNair, MP Martin Docherty-Hughes and Lord Provost Douglas McAllister but it was the sea of volunteers and victims affected by the legacy of Clyde heavy industry who gave the night the significance it deserved.

Rachel Gallagher, Co-ordinator at Clydebank Asbestos Group, said:

“We were really humbled to be joined by so many people on Friday night.
“For 30 years CAG has fought for truth and justice and being joined by so many people at the Golden Jubilee shows just how important that fight continues to be.
“Asbestos continues to affect our communities and our loved ones and we will continue to take frontline action – with social support and campaigning – to ensure future generations don’t inherit the problems of the past.
“Thank you to everyone who has continued to support CAG over the years but also to the founding members of the charity in the early 1990s because without their innovative and courageous first steps we, and hundreds of people across the Clyde and Dunbartonshire area, would not be where we are today.”

Watch the video below, which was specially commissioned to mark the 30th anniversary, to learn more about the charity and the work it has done throughout the last 30 years to help victims of asbestos-related disease.

Those who attended the 30th event last week heard from multiple guest speakers including:

  • Theresa Jones – CAG Chairperson

  • Prof Andrew Watterson – Emeritus Professor of Health at University of Stirling

  • Fraser Simpson – Head of Industrial Disease at Digby Brown Solicitors

  • Lord Provost Douglas McAllister

  • MSP Marie McNair

  • MP Martin Docherty-Hughes

CAG also presented a number of school children with prizes following an Industrial History Competition. Children were invited to submit art work, posters or poetry relating to West Dunbartonshire’s Industrial past and its relationship with asbestos.

Among the winners were Aylssa Farrow from Braehead Primary winning 1st place for her poster. 1st place for poetry went to Rosalie Keeley from Our Lady of Loretto. 1st place for Art went to Martyna Slaby and Migle Zaleckyte both from Our Lady of Loretto.

In addition to the 30th celebrations the new book Asbestos and Clydebank was unveiled to the public for the first time.

Fernada McDevitt shared her story about her mesothelioma diagnosis and even agreed to take part in a video which was shown on the evening which also included footage from Mr Rocco Bilancia, Thoracic Consultant and Carolyn MacRae, Mesothelioma UK Clinical Nurse Specialist.

Copies of the charity’s new book Asbestos and Clydebank – a landmark publication that brings together the lost voices of asbestos sufferers – were also shared with the public for the first time.

The 44-page book serves as an easy-read guide on the history of asbestos and heavy industry suited for all ages and backgrounds. As well as delving into the history and health implications of past heavy industry it features emotional first-hand accounts from asbestos sufferers. Such as Jimmy McFarlane, 83, from Bowling, West Dunbartonshire who developed pleural plaques after being exposed to asbestos while working as a heating engineer. And Laura Evans who at 32-years-old is one of the youngest mesothelioma patients in Scotland.

Jimmy said:

“Like the majority of people I never knew about CAG but I was always worried about knowing what to do and I don’t want anyone else to feel lost.”
Laura added: “It sounds morbid but the reality is, when I die I want to know my story is there so that more people will take notice.
“I really hope that asbestos is removed from all public buildings and homes – there’s no asbestos that’s safe so leaving it alone is not an option.”

The book was developed alongside Digby Brown Solicitors as the firm was passionate about helping CAG turn the vision for the book into a reality.

Fraser Simpson, Partner at Digby Brown, said:

“The vision for the book was commendable because it rightly – and finally – places the spotlight on real people and their communities.
Asbestos and Clydebank therefore is a vital social document that I hope will be a catalyst for positive action to improve the future.”

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