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Asbestos cancer victims remembered at memorial held in Scotland

Action on Asbestos will be holding the annual memorial service to remember those who have lost their lives to mesothelioma (Stephen Pond/PA)
Action on Asbestos will be holding the annual memorial service to remember those who have lost their lives to mesothelioma (Stephen Pond/PA)

An annual memorial for those who have lost their lives to mesothelioma – a rare asbestos-related cancer – will be held in Scotland.

Scottish charity Action on Asbestos will be holding a service in the gardens of the Provand’s Lordship of Glasgow at midday on Friday for those who have lost loved ones to the disease.

It will be the first service to be held in person in three years due to previous Covid restrictions.

Leader of the Scottish Labour party Anas Sawar will be speaking at the event, among others including Dave Moxham of Scottish Trades Union Congress, Louise Gilmour from GMB Scotland, Tommy Campbell from Unite and Laura Blane Thompsons Solicitors Scotland.

Latest figures show that, in 2019, there were 2,369 deaths from mesothelioma in the UK, according Action on Asbestos.

The day will also mark the launch of the national campaign “Go Blue for Mesothelioma” to raise awareness of the cancer.

Landmark buildings across the UK will be lit up with a blue light, including Murrayfield Stadium, Kelpies, St Andrews University, Falkirk Wheel, Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) in Glasgow, Edinburgh International Conference Centre and University of Aberdeen.

Phyllis Craig, director of Action on Asbestos, said: “We are constantly trying to raise awareness of the fact that asbestos related disease is still killing people even though the use and import of asbestos was banned in the UK in 1999.

“People continue to die as it takes decades following the exposure to asbestos for any disease to develop and be diagnosed.

“We are delighted to be involved in the GoBlueMeso Campaign as a national effort is needed to focus attention on this devasting disease.”

The charity said asbestos remains “in vast numbers” of public buildings, schools and hospitals, leaving those who work in them or do repairs and maintenance vulnerable to being exposed.

Ms Craig added: “The thought that we will continue to have so many needless deaths for the foreseeable future is just unacceptable.

“We need to get the asbestos out of schools and out of buildings so that people can go safely about their work.”

She said she hopes the day will “focus people’s minds on the seriousness of asbestos exposure” and thanked lung cancer nurse specialists Tracy Petrie and Carolyn McRae and the wider mesothelioma community for their support in the campaign.

Gary Smith, chairman of Action on Asbestos, added: “It is vital that all those who have died are remembered and that their grieving families are supported.

“The focus will be on asking that people take a moment to reflect on the many thousands of people who have needlessly lost their lives through being exposed to asbestos and reflect on whether they have a role to play in preventing exposure to asbestos in the workplace.

“It is only through acting now that the deaths from mesothelioma and other asbestos related diseases will start to come down.”