2017 iPlymouth calendar raises £5,500 for Mesothelioma sufferers

Last year, the iPlymouth Photography Group on Flickr united with the South West Mesothelioma Support Group to produce a 2017 charity calendar to raise funds and spread awareness, whilst at the same time remembering all those who have lost their lives to mesothelioma and asbestos related diseases.

The calendar featured the work from over 40 amateur photographers from Plymouth and the surrounding area including stunning landscape images of Plymouth, Devon and Cornwall. The charity pages focused on the appointment of new Mesothelioma Clinical Nurse Specialist for the South West Christine Jones, who is being funded by the charitable trust Mesothelioma UK, and local photographer Ken Steer who sadly passed away from mesothelioma in May 2016 after being exposed to asbestos whilst working as a carpenter more than 40 years ago.

Mesothelioma is a terminal cancer which most commonly affects the lining of the lungs and is caused by the inhalation of disturbed asbestos fibres. Asbestos is often called the ‘hidden killer’ as the dust can be too small to see and yet has the potential to kill. Historically Plymouth has been a hotspot for mesothelioma with many cases emerging among former Devonport Dockyard workers and labourers.

Local companies generously sponsored the calendar which meant that every penny raised went to charity. Specialist asbestos solicitors Wolferstans sponsored all printing costs, whilst Redrok undertook the printing and donated a promotional banner and produced 250 of the calendars free of charge. Martin Luck Group donated envelopes that were given away with each calendar.

Tim Yorke-Dunne, Managing Director of the Martin Luck Group stated: ‘Martin Luck Group is delighted to have supported the iPlymouth Calendar once again this year. A number of staff members have personal experience with Mesothelioma, so we have a good understanding of the important work that the South West Mesothelioma Support Group provides to sufferers of the disease. The calendar seems to get better and better every year, so we are always pleased to get involved in such a brilliant fund raising activity.’

An amazing £5,500 was raised in total. Jamie Quinn from iPlymouth and Liz Makin, Senior Solicitor at Wolferstans, presented a cheque to Christine Jones at the iPlymouth New Year buffet which was held on 21st January 2017 at The Brook Inn Plympton St Maurice and organised by Mary and Clive Taylor.

Dean Cruickshanks, Head of the Asbestos Team at Wolferstans, said: ‘Wolferstans are proud to be able to sponsor and help such a fantastic charity like the South West Mesothelioma Group. The work that the group does is invaluable in promoting awareness of asbestos related cancers, which are sadly so common in the South West. They are there for the people that suffer with these terrible conditions when they are needed the most and we are very privileged to be a part of their great work.’

A popular photo in this year’s calendar was taken by Rich Walker, who provided a stunning shot of Plymouth’s historic Barbican set behind the replica of the Spanish carrack Nao Victoria. Rich said: ‘I've only been a member of the iPlymouth group on Flickr for a year and I was very honoured to have my photo chosen as the calendars front cover. There is a wealth of photographic talent in Plymouth and the photographers who contributed images to the calendar are all fantastic. I'm so glad we could raise a lot of money for a very worthwhile cause.’

iPlymouth member and Plymouth University cartographer Jamie Quinn, who designed and produced the calendar for free in his spare time, added: ‘The iPlymouth Group on Flickr is really happy with this annual project that raises much-needed funds for the South West Mesothelioma Support Group at the same time as showcasing some fantastic photos of the area from our talented members. This is the 7th iPlymouth charity calendar, and the 5th done in conjunction with the South West Mesothelioma Support Group – long may the collaboration continue!’

The South West Mesothelioma Support Group was established in Plymouth to provide peer and professional advice and support for those affected by mesothelioma and their families, with the aim that those diagnosed would feel less isolated by their illness. Christine Jones (Mesothelioma Clinical Nurse Specialist for the South West) stated: ‘On behalf of the South West Mesothelioma Support Group, I would like to thank iPlymouth and the support received from our sponsors for the outstanding calendar that has subsequently raised a phenomenal £5,500. Through the amazing photography and sterling efforts of the volunteers in selling copies we will be able to continue to highlight the dangers of asbestos and its inherent impact on the health and wellbeing of those who have been exposed. I know how much the local support means to those I see struggling daily with the impact of this horrible disease, and a ‘thank you’ seems inadequate for all the effort that goes into the production of the calendar, but it comes from the heart of the whole group.’

The South West Mesothelioma Support group holds monthly meetings in Plymouth and Truro for those diagnosed or affected by Mesothelioma and other asbestos related conditions. The group’s friendly and informal meetings are a chance to meet other patients and carers who understand what those diagnosed are going through and also share more about the condition and the help that is available. Members of the group also fund raise and spread awareness throughout the region about the condition and ongoing dangers of asbestos.

New members are welcome. Anyone requiring information about the support group can contact Mesothelioma Clinical Nurse Specialist Christine Jones on 01752 763665 or email christine.paterson4@nhs.net. The South West Mesothelioma Support Group and details of their forthcoming events can also be found on Facebook or Twitter @SWMesoSupport.

The iPlymouth Group on Flickr is open to anybody with an interest in Plymouth and its surroundings. It is a place to upload photos, share them with the group and have discussions about anything and everything. There are monthly breakfast meetings held in the Brook Inn in Plympton and online photo competitions held every month. Anyone interested can register at Flickr.com and search for iPlymouth to find the group.

For more information about the iPlymouth or the calendar, please contact Jamie Quinn on 01752 585537 or email james.quinn@plymouth.ac.uk.