A CHARITY campaigner who set out to raise £100,000 in memory of her husband – but has raised more than £1m in ten years – is to receive an MBE.
Chris Knighton set up the Mick Knighton Mesothelioma Research Fund in 2002, a year after her husband died from the asbestos-related disease.
Initially Chris vowed to raise £100,000 in her husband’s name because that was the average amount of compensation paid to mesothelioma sufferers.
But ten years after setting up the fund she broke the £1m barrier, and will later this week launch the first mesothelioma tissue and blood bank, which will have a major impact on research into the disease.
And now the 65-year-old she has been made an MBE for services to Mesothelioma Research.
“I received a letter from the cabinet office that said strictly private, and I thought, oh my God what’s this?” she said.
“I opened it and read it through and thought it can’t be me, I was looking on the back and thinking it will have a punch line at the end.
“I just couldn’t believe it, it was very surreal and overwhelming, but absolutely fantastic.”
Chris was nominated for the honour by the patrons of the fund.
“Out of the dreadful tragedy of losing Mick, we have made a huge difference, and we are going to continue to make a difference,” she added.
“Mesothelioma is a devastating cancer, it just squeezes the life out of the person.
“We were told there was no treatment, no cure and no hope, so I have put my life on hold to helping other people so it doesn’t have to be that way.
“Mick would be extremely proud, but at the end of the day it is Mick who is behind all this and we have to continue to try and make a difference.”
Mick had been exposed to asbestos while in the Navy. As a gunner, he was issued with anti-inflammable gauntlets and hoods, and the gun turret he manned was lined with asbestos.
So far, the charity has funded four major research studies of mesothelioma, and will now launch the tissue bank this week.
The charity has also set up mesothelioma self-help and friendship groups in both North and South Tyneside to give sufferers and their families an opportunity to meet other people in similar circumstances.
The fund is holding a memorial service on Friday, July 6, at 11am at St Nicholas’s Cathedral in Newcastle to form part of Action Mesothelioma Day, an annual event to raise awareness of mesothelioma.
There will be a Tree of Hope which will hold messages and memories of those who have lost their lives to the disease.
Visit www.mickknightonmesorf.org to learn more about mesothelioma or the Mick Knighton Mesothelioma Research Fund.