Originally published on Tuesday 23 October 2012 by the Washington Star
The 10,000th snowdrop has been poignantly planted in memory of victims of a cancer caused by asbestos.
Relatives and friends gathered at a memorial garden in Washington to mark the latest stage of the lasting tribute.
In October, 2010, 3,000 bulbs were planted at Woodbridge Gardens, Columbia, for those who have died of mesothelioma.
A year later The Big Lottery funded another 3,000 snowdrops – the emblem of mesothelioma groups – with the latest batch just added.
The garden was founded by the South Tyneside Mesothelioma Self Help Group, established two years ago to offer support to suffers and their families.
Mesothelioma is a cancer which forms in the lining of the lungs and other organs, and is caused by inhaling asbestos dust.
Member Ray Turnbull, 69, who lost his wife Jean, 62, mum Jane, 72, and uncle George Watson to the disease, said vigilance of asbestos dangers should remain.
Said Mr Turnbull, of Crighton, Oxclose, Washington: “It is hoped the garden will highlight the devastating effects of mesothelioma.”
It is believed many Washington victims died from contact with the former Turner and Newall asbestos plant in Columbia.
Mr Turnbull remains worried about building works in the town, adding: “We are concerned over the dangers of anyone doing an archeological dig without following health and safety guidelines.
“They should not take workwear home, as it could carry asbestos fibres.”