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Next generation need to help those affected by asbestos

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."



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