Johnathan Steventon-Kiy of Swain & Co Solicitors attended Action Mesothelioma Day on 30 June 2017 at The Inn Lodge, Portsmouth, Hampshire.
The event was hosted and run by the Hampshire Asbestos Support and Awareness Group (HASAG) as it has been for a number of years. The event attracted a mixed crowd ranging from victims of asbestos-related disease and their families to charitable donors, medical practitioners and lawyers.
First on the agenda was to buy raffle tickets and sample the wonderful selection of cakes provided by volunteers. These were just a few of the fundraising activities taking place on the day to enable HASAG to continue the great work that they do throughout the South.
Next, we moved outside to release the doves in remembrance of those who have lost their lives as a result of asbestos. Due to environmental restrictions the doves had be inflated this year with a promise of the real doves returning next year.
Whilst this was extremely sobering and there were a number of individuals with terminal illnesses in attendance, there was a real sense of community and a coming together in unity from everyone present.
Greg Deleuil, Respiratory Physician and Medical Advisor, provided some words to mark this event which was particularly poignant given his mother passed away from mesothelioma.
We then moved back inside for a series of talks. First up was Laurie Kazan Allen, author of International Ban Asbestos Secretariat. Laurie gave an update about what is going on around the World to ban the use of asbestos. Readers will be shocked to know that in some countries, asbestos is still widely used and workers (and others) still exposed to this lethal dust. An example provided by Laurie was of children in India standing and holding pieces of corrugated asbestos sheeting that had been produced in a factory.
Fortunately, the dangers of asbestos in the developed World are now being acknowledged and its use banned accordingly. However, there are some areas where it is still freely used.
Next was a talk from Greg Deleuil, Respiratory Physician and Medical Advisor. Greg explained that growing up (Perth, Australia) in the late 1930’s, the houses contained a large number of asbestos sheeting. Unfortunately, after a particularly bad cyclone, many of the houses were destroyed and Greg recalls “a green dust cloud” hanging above the town. This “cloud” was largely asbestos fibres and many of the town’s residents were exposed.
Greg now travels the World educating others of the dangers of asbestos as well as treating sufferers in his own clinic. You got a real sense for Greg’s passion on this subject and remarkably given he is now in his 80’s, he shows no signs of stopping. He is doing some fantastic work and I hope he continues to do so for a long time to come.
We then received a short talk from a mesothelioma nurse from Mesothelomia UK. The talk was to provide an overview on what clinical trials are currently taking place. Whilst the message was that sadly, there is no curative treatment for mesothelioma at present, hard work was being done to indentify palliative treatments to prolong sufferers lives to ensure that they get as much time with their families as they can (mean time of suffering is currently around 12 months from diagnosis to death for mesothelioma).
Following the talks it was time for the delegates to eat! HASAG had arranged a lovely buffet lunch and then came the raffle prize draw. Sadly, it wasn’t my lucky day but I took solace in the fact that I had attended a truly wonderful event for a great cause, seen some familiar faces and met some inspirational people – perhaps next year!
Johnathan Steventon-Kiy and the Industrial Disease team at Swain & Co Solicitors regularly win compensation for their clients who suffer from industrial diseases, including asbestos related illnesses. If you, a family member or a friend suffer from an industrial disease contact our team today on 02392 483 322.