Mother’s lasting legacy to help asbestos sufferers years after her death

Audrey Finnegan Crawford died at the age of 50 after being exposed to toxic asbestos fibres as a junior doctor in the early ’90s, the Sunday Post has reported.

She was working at the former Belvidere Hospital in Glasgow, and came into contact with asbestos while staying in the doctors’ accommodation there.

Before her death in 2013, the mother-of-three worked with charity Clydeside Action on Asbestos (CAA) to help raise awareness of the condition and support other sufferers.

Now her husband, Dr Michael Crawford, has donated £50,000 to CAA, which will fund vital training for nurses working with patients enduring asbestos-related conditions.

Michael, who was about to celebrate his 22nd wedding anniversary with Audrey when she died, said he wanted to help the charity which was so close to his late wife’s heart. He said:

“I’m not aware that any effective treatments exist for this cancer. The best we can do for people at the minute is try to improve the quality of their lives and time they have left after diagnoses.

I hope this fund will improve nurses’ access educational opportunities to allow them to better take care of their patients.

Despite the fact that my wife died from mesothelioma, I don’t think we are a typical family to be affected by it. It’s usually people involved in construction or ship-building.

What is becoming more apparent is that women are affected as well and it’s those who are exposed in ways that aren’t related to traditional industries. Doctors, nurses, teachers and people who worked in libraries, seem to becoming more frequently diagnosed.”

Michael told of how the charity gave Audrey a sense of purpose after she stopped working as a GP partner at a practice in East Kilbride, following her diagnosis in 2009.

Phyllis Craig MBE, chairwoman at CAA, said the Dr Audrey Finnegan Crawford Memorial Fund would help nurses who are facing difficulties accessing cash for training. She said:

“We are delighted to be in a position to offer funding to nurses so they are able to continue to develop knowledge and skills beneficial to those diagnosed with mesothelioma.

Over the years we have witnessed a decrease in funds being made available to the NHS and CAA hope to now provide this funding.

We are hoping nurses who work directly or indirectly with patients diagnosed with mesothelioma will apply for funding to attend a conference or some other type of course.”

Jackie Dunn, a thoracic surgery nurse specialist at the Golden Jubilee National Hospital in Clydebank and specialist advisor to the charity also welcomed the funding, and said it was “often difficult” to secure cash for attending conferences or courses, which she hopes will now change thanks to Dr Crawford’s donation.

Jane Capaldi, 64, was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2015. She said the extra support for nurses would “inevitably” help more people like her living with the disease. She said:

“It is fantastic the CAA have decided to make funding available so nurses can continue with their education in order to help people like me.

The nursing staff who are involved in my treatment and care are second to none, however having resources made available to help Scottish nurses continue with their personal development can only mean that they will have more knowledge which will inevitably help their patients.”

You can read more about Clydeside Action on Asbestos here, get further detail on Audrey’s Memorial Fund here, and make a donation to CAA here.