National Mesothelioma Day Friday 7th July 2017

Event organised by South Yorkshire Asbestos Victims Support Group (SARAG)

Sheffield Cathedral between 11am and 1pm.

Report by Martin Mayer, Secretary Sheffield Trade Union Council


The event started at 11am in the square at the front of the Cathedral to read out 53 names of those who have lost their life to this awful disease, and hear a short address from Lord Mayor Cllr. Ann Murphy.

A meeting then took place in the Domino Hall, Sheffield Cathedral to hear speeches and presentations, introduced by Paula Brown SARAG

Dr Leon Lewis from Northern General Hospital explained how a much more focused service is now being delivered to sufferers, and Helena Stanley, Mesothelioma Cancer Nurse Specialist in Sheffield, explained the fantastic work of these specialist nurses, of which there are only 15 in the whole country. Adrian Budgen, Trustee of the June Hancock Mesothelioma Research Fund explained how they have raised funds to support crucial research to improve treatment of victims. Martin Mayer Sheffield Trade Union Council brought a solidarity message from Sheffield’s trade union movement and paid tribute to the much-valued work of SARAG case workers.

We were also be joined by guests from Japan who are part of the Asia Ban Asbestos Network. One lady had lost her husband to Mesothelioma some years ago and was touched that her husband’s name was one of the names read out at the beginning of the ceremony.


A buffet lunch was provided by UNITE The Union.  Thank you to all those who were able to join us for this event and to raise awareness of Mesothelioma.

All proceeds from the day will go to the June Hancock Mesothelioma Research Fund.


Below is the text of my address on behalf of Sheffield TUC:


“Today on National Mesothelioma Day I wish to bring solidarity greetings from this city’s trade union movement in recognition  of the many victims of this terrible industrial disease caused by asbestos exposure. And also to bring recognition and gratitude to the spouses, families and friends of victims who have supported them through their painful, distressing and usually terminal suffering. Indeed fewer than one in ten victims survive as long as 5 years.


Currently about 2,500 people die from Mesothelioma every year and this is expected to continue for the next decade, most of it relating to exposure before 1980. Most of the victims are men who came into contact with asbestos at work, but it has even struck spouses who came into contact with their husband’s clothing. No other industrial disease claims anything like this number of victims annually.


National Mesothelioma Day is not only about bringing awareness about this deadly disease, but to campaign for better medical research to provide the drugs to help, and for better specialist care and support for victims. It’s also to ensure that in future the compensation paid out to victims is not only easier and more straightforward to claim but is adequate to compensate for the terrible effects of the disease on workers who simply wanted to do an honest day’s work in safety to earn money to provide for their families – and of course enjoy a happy retirement, something which has been cruelly robbed from them.


Trade unions have played a vital part in the campaign for justice for sufferers of Mesothelioma. Our legal departments have battled in the courts for compensation and our health and safety departments have campaigned to stop the use of asbestos and have it removed under special conditions of safety whenever it’s found.


But I want to pay a special tribute today to the fantastic case workers at Sheffield and Rotherham Asbestos Group SARAG, committed trade unionists all of them, who give the hugely valued specialist support and advice to Mesothelioma sufferers and their families on a day to day basis. On behalf of all us in the trade union movement, your work makes us very proud. Thank you.”