Tuesday, 7 July 2009
Saturday 4th July
Our last day.
We thought there were no hills 'down south' but managed to find a few little breathtaking inclines on our last day on the backroads to Portsmouth then on to Southhampton.
Many thanks to all at HASAG for their wonderful welcome to Southampton to end our Breathtaking Journey.
This isn't the end of our blog. It remains very much a "work in progress" with additions and edits to the previous daily posts.
Thank you to everyone that has helped and been involved in a truly memorable and Breathtaking Journey.
We must never forget those who have died as a result of asbestos- all were preventable deaths.
We must ensure that future generations are kept safe from this cruel and deadly mineral.
And that current generations can get justice and access to medical treatment that they deserve. Their work contributed so much to our economy yet they have paid the ultimate price with their health.
On the first day of our journey we saw a banner with a simple message:
JUSTICE AND TRUTH.
The facts about asbestos are truly breathtaking. So are the brave people and communities we have visited.
Our journey has not finished.
Friday, 3 July 2009
The heatwave was broken last night with a rainstorm.
We cycled under welcome clouds with hot sun breaking through.
More chocolate box beautiful villages and undulent country lanes through Sussex into Hampshire - our final county.
A wonderful welcome in Petersfield.
Here is a link to the Daily Mirror.
Mr. Michael Clapham (Barnsley, West and Penistone) (Lab): Will my right hon. and learned Friend join me in congratulating Katrina London, Jason Addy and Paul Glanville on undertaking the mesothelioma awareness ride? It will cover  miles from Glasgow to
2 July 2009 : Column 486
Southampton, and today they arrive in London. The intention, of course, is to raise awareness of mesothelioma cancer, which is caused by exposure to asbestos, and at the same time to raise funds for the victims and to support the establishment of a national centre for asbestos-related diseases. Will my right hon. and learned Friend support the setting up of that centre?
Ms Harman: I congratulate Katrina, Jason and Paul on their mesothelioma awareness ride, and I congratulate my hon. Friend, who has probably done more than anybody in this House to raise awareness of this cruel disease, which mostly affects people through their workplace.
EARLY DAY MOTION 1808:
Wednesday, 1 July 2009
A scorching day with the tar melting on the country lanes from Stratford upon Avon.
Canada Day in Birmingham was marked with a protest outside the old Canadian Consulate building. Many see it shameful that the Federal Canadian and Provincial Quebec governments still fund the promotion and export of chrysotile asbestos to the Developing World.
We took the message from Birmingham to the Canadian High Commission in London the next day.
Monday, 29 June 2009
Back in the saddle.
Up to the old Acre Mill site - a Cape factory that has been described as one of Britian's worst industrial disasters. Asbestos processing began in 1939 with the manufacture of gas masks. After the war production switched to a variety of asbestos related construction and insulating products.
Hundreds of former Cape workers locally have succumbed to asbestos related disease and cancer. Even through the factory closed in 1970 and the main buildings were demolished by 1979, the deadly legacy of Acre Mill continues to affect the health of local people.
We should never forget the legacy of Acre Mill.
Our journey continued over the Pennines then along the picturesque Leeds Liverpool canal to Armley - home of the former JW Roberts factory. The environmental and occupations scandal of this T&N subsidiary was uncovered by the Court of Appeal in the mid 1990's.
The cast from the Yorkshire Playhouse production of "Dust" greeted us in Armley.
more to follow...
Tommorrow we start our day by going up to the old Cape Acre Mill site set on Old Town high above Hebden Bridge.
I took a walk down the Spodden Valley to the 'hidden gem' of Healey Dell Nature Reserve.
After a week of meeting some incredible campaigners and brave people facing the cruel injustice of asbestos diseases such mesothelioma I recall a time many years ago when a Yorkshire Television documentary crew came to Rochdale. Canadian campaigners have put the following posts on YouTube. It brings the continuing issue of asbestos damage and injustice very close to home.
Sunday, 28 June 2009
A rousing send-off by the Lord Mayor of Liverpool and the Merseyside Asbestos Victim Support Group.
We were joined today by a great group of cyclists.
Midday outside Manchester Town Hall greeted a fantastic crowd of Greater Manchester Asbestos Victim Support Group campaigners.
Off to Rochdale to meet the Mayor and Mayoress together with local politicians from all political parties and campaigners from Save Spodden Valley.
Up to Spodden Valley with Cllr William Hobhouse, Chair of the TBA Working Party that scrutinises the current health and safety aspects of the former Turner Brothers Asbestos factory site.
Finally up past Blackstone Edge into Yorkshire (where the sun disappeared to be repaced with gloomy dark clouds!) into Hebden Bridge.
We are all ready for a rest day tommorrow.
A warm suuny day through the old County Palentine of Lancashire (before the local government re-organisations of 1974, both Barrow and Liverpool were part of Lancashire).
I can't help being biased, Lancashire is a beautiful county. But the ugly legacy of asbestos has made its mark in the places we visited from the Shipyards and railway sheds of Barrow, the factories around Preston.
Travelling along the Lancaster Canal.
Wednesday, 24 June 2009
Cloudy but mostly fine.
Our ride from Edinburgh along the fertile agricultural lands of the Scottish lowlands towards the border at Berwick gave us an opportunity to reflect on the tireless work of Scottish asbestos campaigners and the differences between Scots law and that south of the border. Devolution has given asbestos victims some power to obtain some modicum of justice for the damage asbestos has caused to former industrial communities.
Scotland could be seen to lead the way for Britian on several asbestos related issues.
For example, next month, Hollyrood will enact legislation to reinstate compensation for asbestos related pleural plaques.
Saturday, 20 June 2009
The start of our Breathtaking Journey. A great send off by John McFall MP and campaigners from Clydebank and Clydeside
end of Day One outside of the Scottish Parliament
Saturday 20th. Light drizzle, sunshine and showers.
We start on the eve of the longest day with one of our shorter journeys. About 70 miles to get our legs warmed up. Starting from the River Clyde in Glasgow and ending at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh.
We were given a great send off in Glasgow from the incredible campaigners from Clydebank and Clydeside groups. We couldn't have started from a more appropriate place. Far too many have died as a result of asbestos exposure from Scotland's former industrial heartland.
Shipyard workers were exposused to huge amounts of asbestos during ship construction and refurbishment. Seafarers were exposed when working on the ships. Dock workers when unloading the deadly asbestos cargoes from Canada and Southern Africa.
Most of the past heavy industry has now gone. But the legacy of asbestos cancer deaths continue.
As we cycle along beside of the Clyde, the regeneration of Glasgow is clear. New offices and homes. But perhaps the biggest surprise is just how green this former industrial area is becoming. Regeneartion has been much more than pouring concrete. Large amounts of green, public open space has been created.
As we Cycle to Edinburgh along Cycle Route 75 we pass new schools and civic buildings. Part of the old railway lines is being re-engineered for rail use. Navigating the changed route puts a few extra miles on the jouney but we end the first day with a welcome to Edinburgh by campaigners from Asbestos Action Tayside outside the Scottish Parliament.
A great start to out Breathtaking Journey.
Our journey is to highlight some of the breathtaking facts about asbestos - still Britain's biggest workplace killer.
Over 2000 people die of mesothelioma each year in Britian. More people than die on our roads. About the same number die of asbestos related lung cancer. The trend continues to rise.
Exposure to the deadly fibre occured decades ago. People are usually retired when they present with the cancer. The workforce and premises that caused the death sentence are often gone. Because of this, asbestos related disease has been characterised as a hidden killer.
Is asbestos just a historic artefact of a past, heavy industrial exposure?
No. It appears it isn't.
Does asbestos still threaten workers and the British public a decade after all forms of asbestos have been banned in the UK and EU?
Exposure to deadly asbestos fibres in 21st century Britian should be preventable.
It is a breathtaking fact it is still occuring.
Going to work shouldn't carry a death sentence.
As we drove up the M6 to start our journey in Glasgow we passed too many places where people have died simply as a result of engaging in a days work. The towering cranes and building sites of urban regeneration schemes. Morcambe Bay. The railway that heads north beside the motorway.
Preventable deaths of people that left home one day never to return.
As we head towards the 'silicon glens' I wonder about the suspicious cancers and illnesses that have been linked to semiconductor production and other profitable high tech work.
Some say that nanotechnology could be the "next asbestos".
It would be truly breathtaking if the injustices of the past are repeated in the future.
The knowledge that a hugely profitable material carried devastating health risks. The official lies, the denials, the obfuscation, the avoidances of responsibility, the 'creative accountancy' that can avoid and employers, or insurers legal liability. The manouvers seen in the past few decades regarding asbestos deaths and the search for justice has been truly breathtaking.
People want to work. Jobs are important. But if the tragedy of asbestos tells us anything it is that we must always ensure that people must be put before profit.
Friday, 19 June 2009
The journey of (over) a thousand miles starts with a single peddle...
Friday 19th June: Day Zero (light drizzle).
Scotland here we come.
Here is the route of our Breathtaking Journey...
20th June: Glasgow
21st June: Edinburgh
23rd June: Newcastle
25th June: Barrow
26th June: Liverpool/Manchester
28th June: Leeds
29th June: Sheffield
30th June: Derby
1st July: Birmingham
2nd July: Royal Albert Docks/Barking
4th July: Southampton
Wednesday, 20 May 2009
Meosothelioma is more than just a word. It is a sentence. A death sentence.
Mesothelioma is a terminal cancer. Its only fully recognised cause is past exposure to asbestos.
It can take decades to manifest itself. Some people worked for years breathing in large amounts of dust and, thankfully, remain free of the disease. Others who came into low level exposure – even washing dusty workclothes or spending time near a source of invisible, low level, dust, have developed asbestos related cancer. It is a very cruel lottery.
This blog is a record of thoughts and experiences as we prepare to cycle through Britian to raise awareness of asbestos cancer. It will include private views about the breathtaking facts about asbestos, the communities and people that have been affected by this deadly mineral.
It will be quite a breathtaking journey in more ways than one.
It is a breathtaking fact that, in 2009, asbestos related disease remains Britain's biggest workplace killer. Yet there is practically no dedicated research funding into these preventable cancers.
We support the call for a National Centre for Asbestos Related Disease (NCARD).
You can follow our breathtaking journey via the internet or meet us as we travel from 20th June to July 4th.
We welcome your comments, photos, stories and help to raise awareness of the deadly legacy caused by asbestos.
Jason, Katrina and Paul.