Asbestos Action 20th Anniversary Conference
We were honoured to host our 20th anniversary conference earlier this month at the Perth Concert Hall.
This event was not just about marking two decades of support and campaigning from ourselves, healthcare professionals and other stakeholders but about commemorating the thousands of real people who have been affected by asbestos-related illnesses.
It was an incredibly poignant day of reflection and contemplation of what the future holds for families across Scotland, medical research, and how the landscape is changing for access to innovative treatments and justice.
After a warm welcome from our Chair, Iain M. Murray MBE, we heard from Professor Kevin Blyth, founder of the Scottish Mesothelioma Network:
“The internet can be a scary place when you have a cancer diagnosis, especially if it’s a rare cancer diagnosis.
“Our website offers clear information, virtual support groups and contact details for mesothelioma nurses in your region.”
Fraser Simpson, Partner and Head of the Industrial Disease team at Digby Brown Solicitors, helped shed light on how changes to the law can better serve asbestos sufferers and their families to get the recognition, damages and support they deserve.
Liz Darlison MBE, CEO of Mesothelioma UK and Consultant Nurse, spoke about the journey to 2022 and beyond for the national charity for mesothelioma.
Consultant Forensic Scientist, John Raper, provided an expert’s perspective on ‘Asbestos exposure: Knowledge and Standards’.
We also heard from Susan Smyth whose interest in the respiratory field began as a student nurse on a placement. She spoke about the role of the Scottish Mesothelioma Clinical Nurse Specialist, and how she supports those suffering from mesothelioma.
But more importantly than the professionals, we were privileged to hear first-hand accounts from real people as they hoped to inspire others to seek help.
Christina Beech and Michelle Rodger know first-hand how an asbestos-related disease affects not only the person diagnosed with the condition but their loved ones and friends.
Christina’s father-in-law, Ernest Beech (known to all as Barry) was diagnosed with mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos during his working life. Christina told the Conference how vital the input was from the charity:
“You don’t know what help you’re going to need, even if you think you’re the strongest person… sometimes we all need to ask for help, and it is brave.”
Michelle recalled memories of her father, Tam, coming home from work looking dusty and dirty. Little did she know that this would later manifest itself in the form of asbestos related illness for her father.
Michelle got the call to say Tam’s condition declined while she was abroad – and recalled how thankful she was when Asbestos Action was able to stay by her father’s bedside until she could get a flight home:
“Asbestos Action went above and beyond anything I would’ve expected, ever.
“To have someone with your loved one, looking after them in their final hours… I don’t have the words.”
Throughout the course of the day, we played some videos from service users who have been affected by asbestos related illnesses and have sought help from Asbestos Action:
“Caring, supportive, a comfort blanket – that’s how I would describe Asbestos Action.” – Mary Lavery
“It’s the most devastating news I’ve ever had in my life… Asbestos Action has given me hope, given me light when it was dark.” – Ian Watson
Thank you to everyone who attended the conference and a special thank you to all speakers and exhibitors for contributing towards a great day.