Tree memorial honours city’s victims of deadly asbestos

Rachel Reeves MP and Russell Hancock plant the Asbestos Memorial Tree in the grounds of Armley Industrial Museum in the memory of local victims of asbestos-releted diseases. Picture Bruce Rollinson.

Rachel Reeves MP and Russell Hancock plant the Asbestos Memorial Tree in the grounds of Armley Industrial Museum in the memory of local victims of asbestos-releted diseases. Picture Bruce Rollinson.

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A MEMORIAL has been created in Leeds to the hundreds of people who suffered and died as a result of an asbestos factory.

The JW Roberts asbestos factory at Armley produced deadly dust which contaminated workers, their families and the surrounding area. Many people went on to develop the lung cancer mesothelioma.

A memorial tree was planted at Armley Industrial Museum by Leeds West Labour MP Rachel Reeves and Russell Hancock, son of the late June Hancock, who successfully campaigned for compensation from the factory’s owners.

Mr Hancock runs the June Hancock Memorial Fund, which has so far raised over £1m to support those affected by asbestos-related diseases.

Ms Reeves said: “This memorial is important to remind everyone of the terrible cost of industrial diseases like mesothelioma, and to commemorate the suffering of the residents of Armley, and their long struggle for justice.”

The planting ceremony was attended by local residents, representatives from Leeds Occupational Health and members of local trade unions.

The tree will form part of an education project and exhibition telling the story of the factory and the legacy for workers, their families and residents. A sculpted stone and a plaque will be added by the general union GMB.

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