A lasting tribute; Bulbs to bloom for cancer victims.
TEN thousand snowdrops will bloom in memory of the victims of asbestosrelated cancer.
The flowers will be planted by three councils supporting The Snowdrop Fund, which was set up by the Mick Knighton Mesothelioma Research Fund (MKMRF).
The charity was founded by Chris Knighton, of Wallsend, who lost her husband Mick to the asbestos-related cancer, mesothelioma at the age of 60.
The first 2,000 bulbs were planted in the Workers' Memorial Garden at Saltwell Park, Gateshead, yesterday, attended by the town's mayor Maureen Chaplin, who was diagnosed with mesothelioma herself in February, 2007.
It is hoped the snowdrops will be a lasting memorial for the hundreds of Tyneside families who have lost loved ones to mesothelioma.
Chris said: "By planting these snowdrops on both sides of the Tyne we hope to commemorate all those who died from mesothelioma.
"When the bulbs spring in January, they will also give hope that one day we will find a cure for this terrible disease."
Gateshead Council, North Tyneside Council and South Tyneside Council have teamed up to plant the bulbs.
Mesothelioma is a deadly cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. There is currently no cure for the disease, which can lie dormant for up to 40 years and claims around 5,000 lives every year.
Victims include hundreds of former workers from the Tyneside shipyards who were exposed to asbestos during their careers.
The Snowdrop Fund was launched in February to allow families from across the UK to help raise cash for research into mesothelioma.
So far the MKMRF has raised pounds 400,000 to help find a cure for the disease.
Mayor of Gateshead Maureen Chaplin said: "I'm very pleased to be involved in this poignant tribute."
There will be two further planting of snowdrops and anyone affected by mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases is invited to come along.
Bulbs will be planted at the Sir GB Memorial Hunter Hospital in Wallsend, at noon on Friday, October 31. A third event will take place on at 11am on Monday, November 3 at the Law Top Roundabout on Lawe Road, South Shields.
TRIBUTE: Chris Knighton and Maureen Chapman; PROUD: Chris Knighton with snowdrop bulbs to be planted in Gateshead PICTURE: DAVE CHARLTON www.chroniclelive.co.uk/buyaphoto ref: 01371730