The Mick Knighton Mesothelioma Research Fund recently held its fifth Snowdrop flower planting ceremony to honor the lives of Tyneside asbestos victims. The gathering took place at the Walkerville Community Center in Newcastle, England and included a reflective silence and three thousand snowdrops being planted in the memorial garden. A memorial bench is also expected to be added to the garden soon.
Newcastle’s Lord Mayor Coun Brenda Hindmarsh was able to attend and begin the memorial. In the past, this area of Northern England had vibrant coal and steel industries in that helped to spark a significant industrial growth in the early 19th century. Included in this industrial explosion was the shipbuilding industry. The Tyneside shipyards were one of the largest in the world and an entire naval fleet for Japan was built there in the early the 20th century. Unfortunately, the shipbuilding industry as a whole has been severely affected by asbestos exposure and the resulting health issues like mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma, a rare and aggressive cancer primarily caused by asbestos exposure, can take anywhere from 15-40 years to manifest, but upon diagnosis most victims average only one more year of life. The Snowdrop Fund was conceived by Mick Knighton’s widow Chris as an avenue for families across the United Kingdom to contribute to a charity that raises cash for mesothelioma research.
Thus far, the fund has helped raise 900,000 pounds and has provided for three major mesothelioma research studies. Carol Cockburn, whose husband Matthew passed from mesothelioma, said of the memorial site, “The first flower to come through in spring is the snowdrop. It signifies new life and hope. When you lose someone, you can easily fall into a dark hole, the group ad the garden gives you hope. You get a warm feeling when you see the snowdrops after the depths of winter. So, it relates to how the garden makes you feel after losing someone.” Let’s hope that charitable funds like the one started by Chirs Knighton continue to push research toward a cure for this terrible disease.
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