A commemorative blue plaque honouring the achievements of Armley asbestos campaigner June Hancock is set to be unveiled close to where she lived.
June was one of the many victims of mesothelioma (asbestos disease) in Armley.
Living as a child near to the JW Roberts asbestos factory, she was one of many people who were exposed environmentally to asbestos dust even though they never worked at the factory.
It was common for Armley children to create asbestos “snowballs”, as at the time the dangers of the dust were not widely known
Before she died, June successfully sued the company responsible for her exposure. This was the first case brought by a person who had not worked with asbestos, and paved the way for many more asbestos victims like her to obtain justice.
The June Hancock Mesothelioma Fund has since raised more than £1.5m the majority of which being spent on quality research into the diagnosis and treatment of mesothelioma and the care of people with the disease.
The unveiling takes place in Armley at 11am on 9 June 2023 close to where June lived on Salisbury View. Watchdog group Leeds Civic Trust installs the blue plaques throughout the city of Leeds, commemorating people, events and buildings.
Martin Hamilton, Director of Leeds Civic Trust, said: “I know what a cruel disease mesothelioma is, having lost my father to the condition last year.
“June’s bravery and persistence in standing up for herself and for those who, like her, were affected by the disease is inspirational. It is an honour to recognise her life in this way.”
Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves, who will be speaking at the unveiling, said: “I was honoured to raise the issue of mesothelioma and the Armley asbestos tragedy in my maiden speech to Parliament in 2010. June’s inspirational story shows how this determined woman was able to obtain justice for so many.”
Former Leeds West MP John Battle, who supported the campaign, will also be attending and the plaque will be unveiled by her children.
The plaque wording is as follows:
As a childhood resident of 30 Salisbury View she was one of countless Armley residents and workers who died of asbestos exposure from the former JW Roberts Factory.
Her landmark legal case helped to bring justice for many other people who were environmentally exposed to asbestos.
“No matter how small you are, you can fight and no matter how big you are, you can lose.”