Daily Archives: February 5, 2017

Cooking up a treat to bring generations together

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Exeter mum dying from asbestos-related disease is ONLY 33-years-o…

At the age of just 33-years-old, single mum Kirsty List is literally wasting away from an asbestos-related disease.

She has been told she is unlikely to still be alive by this Christmas and the cause of her illness remains a mystery.

Kirsty, who lives with her five-year-old daughter Aimee in Exwick, Exeter, first began feeling unwell in September 2015.

Initially she was diagnosed with gallstones and it was only during an operation at the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital to remove her gallbladder that signs of different illness were detected.

Kirsty recalled: “When I first became ill I had what felt like a pulling sensation in my chest and like a trapped nerve in my neck. I was treated for gallstones for six months.

“I was on quite a lot of Tramadol for the pain but I was still hurting too much. It was only when they went to take out my gallbladder that they found a tumour around it. They left my gallbladder in and did a tumour biopsy.”

It was six weeks before Kirsty was told the results and the diagnosis she received was one she never expected to hear.

“My consultants said I was suffering from mesothelioma. I was incredibly shocked because it’s something you hear in older people, not younger people. I didn’t know anything about asbestos disease.

“The problem for me is there is very little information to parallel me with anyone and work out any prognosis. Most people with asbestos are old and are men.”

Asbestos is a natural fibrous rock. It was widely used within homes and other buildings until 1999.

There are three types of asbestos-related lung disease and the type Kirsty has peritoneal mesothelioma which is cancer of the abdominal lining.

To treat the disease, Kirsty has tried five different types of chemotherapy but she says none worked to any great extent. She received her last course almost a year ago and had been on palliative care since.

Last December Kirsty was told she does not have long left to live.

“It was a conversation I asked to have with my consultant and I felt ready to know,” said Kirsty. “I said, ‘I don’t know if I will see next Christmas’, and my consultant said, ‘I think that’s about right’.”

Kirsty says her health has been gradually deteriorating since her diagnosis and even within the past two weeks she has noticed a difference.

“It’s the pain and exhaustion that’s so hard to live with. I’m on quite a lot of pain medication and I feel tired all the time which makes it hard keeping up with my daughter, but luckily her dad, my ex-partner, is very involved in helping out.

“I walk with crutches now because I can’t walk very far without having to sit down.

“I do have a wheelchair but I’ve not braved using it yet. I have been on a mobility scooter in Exeter city centre but I felt like people were looking at me and wondering why I was using it at my age.

“At the age of 33 it’s kind of embarrassing. To look at me you would think there’s nothing wrong and it makes me feel like having a sign on my back saying, ‘I’m dying, leave me be!’.

“Knowing how you’re going to die and you’re just going to waste away is horrible. I will quite literally waste away. I have already gone from a size 16-18 to a size 8.”

Although the time she now has left is limited, Kirsty says she has not made a bucket list because her focus instead is on keeping life as normal as possible for her daughter.

She said: “Aimee knows everything up and understands that I’m dying, and most of the time she is okay about it.

“There’s no hiding from the fact that she is likely to be six-years-old when I pass away.”

What has given Kirsty some peace of mind for her daughter’s future is receiving a large amount of compensation from the government which is awarded to people with an asbestos related illness.

The money has been put into a trust fund for Aimee. Due to Kirsty’s young age, she is entitled to a larger sum and she has also instructed the help of asbestos solicitor expert Helen Grady at Simpson Millar to find out where she may have been exposed to asbestos to seek further compensation.

Kirsty said: “The trust fund I have been able to give Aimee is the only good thing about what has happened to me. Although I can’t be here for her, that money will be available to her to make her life a little bit easier and give her some security.”

Kirsty believes she was exposed to asbestos either when she was a pupil at school or while working in pubs.

She went to a primary school in Reading which was built in the ’80s and was “riddled with asbestos”. She later went to secondary schools in Reading and North Devon, and the latter also has asbestos.

After spending a few months at Bicton College she later became a pub manager for 13 years for a pub chain. Kirsty worked in Exeter and was as pubs in Somerset and throughout the south west, and says that during that time she worked in some pubs which were being renovated.

Kirsty said: “I don’t find it particularly frustrating that I don’t know where I picked up asbestos from because I choose not to focus on it. I can’t change what’s happened but I do feel a little bit angry because of my daughter. I feel a huge amount of guilt knowing I will leave her behind. That makes me sometimes want to stamp my feet and shout, ‘It’s not fair’.”

In the future Kirsty hopes more will be done to raise awareness about where asbestos is to help keep people safe, and not suffer like she and her family is.

Kirsty said: “I would not necessarily want asbestos to be taken out of all buildings as I know that would be incredibly impractical. But I would like to see it become part of everyone’s induction process when people start a new job.

“If asbestos is in a building everyone should be aware of where it is and how it should be treated to keep themselves and other people safe. It has to be a group effort.

“The asbestos register should also be overhauled to make sure reviews are ongoing.”

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'Visit my mosque day' – A tour inside one of Exeter's most…

Thousands of people are expected to take part in Visit My Mosque day this afternoon as 150 places of worship open their doors to non-muslims.

Organisers behind the national event are expecting thousands of visitors and are hoping people will want to show solidarity after Trump’s travel ban.

Last summer an Echo reporter visited the only purpose built mosque in Devon – based here in Exeter.

It is the fastest growing religion in the UK and yet more than three quarters of the British public claim they know next to nothing about it.Islam has dominated more headlines and column inches in the past 12 months than any other faith, writes Katie French.

But with 84 per cent of the press coverage representing Islam “likely to cause damage or danger” according to a study, should there be an onus on individuals to find out more themselves?

The Exeter Mosque is just a short walk from the city centre and is known as the Islamic Centre of the South West, yet how many have entered its doors?

Actually the figure may be higher than you think, explains social co-ordinator Nazima Khan, who volunteers at the York Road place of worship.

“We have thousands of visitors a year,” she says. “We do a lot of tours and visits from schools across Devon and have visitors from the local community.” It seems an obvious point to mention, but you do not have to be religious to visit the mosque.

Far from it, Nazima says. “Anyone is welcome to come and find out more,” she says. The first thing you notice as a newcomer to the building is a sense of peaceful tranquillity, that and how wonderfully soft the carpets are.

Nazima, an accountant by profession and a volunteer in her spare time, is my tour guide on Thursday morning and tells me how the building was built in 1978 after a group of former and current students of the University of Exeter wanted to a place of worship. It is one of 1,500 mosques in Britain.

On its website is says: “Our primary purpose of providing a consecrated place for worship of Allah has been retained in the forefront. In addition, several other projects have commenced to assist the worshippers and larger community we serve.”

But as Nazima says, the mosque’s duties go way beyond that. As well as teaching Islam and Arabic, the mosque gets thousands of visitors every year from local schools and members of the community.

A large meeting hall in the basement of the building hosts a variety of meetings, many of them inter-faith, and hosts function events.Entering the building for the first time, you will notice men go through one door while women another.

This is a customary tradition and is upheld in all mosques, a spokesman explained.

Shoes are taken off at the door and placed on a rack.

Katie tried on one of the many headscarves available for visitors

One of the reasons for this, the Islamic Centre of Raleigh explains, is to ensure the carpets where people pray are kept clean.

First-time visitors to the mosque will also observe the difference in the bathroom, with rows of footsinks.

This is to ensure you enter a state of physical purification before making a prayer.

Nazima explains the process involves cleaning your feet and body. “It comes from an ancient story about being by a river,” she says. “It also helps concentration while you are praying if you’re not distracted by tastes or smells.”

Men and women are also separated while praying. While males fill the main space downstairs on the plush, red carpets in front of the imam, females are a floor above behind a screen. But one key factor – everyone faces east.

“Wherever you are in the world, you face east,” Nazima says. “This is about unity when you are praying.”

Female visitors to the Exeter Mosque do not have to wear headscarves but both men and women are asked to dress appropriately. If children or visitors are interested in trying out the headscarves though, there are plenty on hand to experiment with.

Nazima’s advice to those wanting to form their own opinions on the religion would be to not read too much into what is said in the main stream media.

“I would say don’t listen to the media, not everything is right,” she says. “The best thing is if you want to learn about Islam, come to your local mosque and speak to the local imam.”

Nazima says if you ask an ordinary Muslim, you will get an opinion.

“Like asking a Christian about their faith, you will just get an opinion,” she says.”If you want to know the truth about the faith, it is better to ask an imam who knows everything there is to know about the book – or come here and borrow a Qu’aran, we have plenty.”

And while other parts of the country have been subjected to challenging tensions between different religious groups, Nazima says Exeter is an accepting place.

“It feels really nice and comfortable living here and I feel as if Exeter people try their best to go out and learn about other cultures,” she explains.”We have volunteers in different parts of the community that help both ways to learn about Islam and helps us to learn about their beliefs.”

In terms of localised issues with racial aggravation, Nazima says: “There is no problem here in Exeter. There may be one or two incidents but mostly it’s lovely, Exeter people themselves are so welcoming.”

If you would like to visit the mosque or find out more, visit exetermosque.org.uk

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Budget 2010

Daily Echo: Budget 2010

Read the official documents from Chancellor George Osborne’s first Budget.

Click links to download. All documents are hosted by direct.gov.uk

Daily Echo: Static HTML imageVideo reports

Budget 2010 – at a glance

  • The Chancellor stood up to deliver his Emergency Budget at 12.33pm.
  • The Budget is tough but fair, he said.
  • The Chancellor promised not to hide hard choices from the British people or bury them in the small print.

ECONOMY

  • Structural deficit should be in balance by 2015/16.
  • Inflation target remains at 2%.
  • Growth predicted to be lower than forecast at 1.2% this year.
  • Spending reductions, not higher taxes, the best way to reduce the deficit.
  • Borrowing to fall to 1.1% of GDP by 2015.
  • UK not joining the euro in this Parliament, and euro preparation unit in the Treasury disbanded.

SPENDING

  • Public expenditure to rise from 637 billion this year to 711 billion by 2015/16.
  • No further reductions in capital spending in this Budget.
  • The Government will look at how to dispose of its shareholding in air traffic body Nats, the student loan book will be sold and the future of the Tote will be resolved.
  • Civil List remains frozen at 7.9 million for this year.
  • Government departmental spending to be cut by 25%.

PAY AND PENSIONS

  • Two-year pay freeze for the public sector, but 250 pay rise for those earning under 21,000.
  • Public service pensions to be investigated.
  • State pension age to be accelerated to age 66.

WELFARE AND BENEFITS

  • Welfare spending rises to be in line with consumer prices, not retail prices.
  • Tax credit payments to families earning more than 40,000 to be reduced.
  • Health in pregnancy grant to be scrapped.
  • Child benefits to be frozen for three years.
  • Disability benefits to be reassessed from 2013.
  • Housing benefit in dire need of reform. Maximum limits reduced to 400 a week for a house.

REGIONS

  • National Insurance incentives to companies starting businesses outside London, the South East and Eastern region.
  • Government to commit to the upgrade of the Tyne and Wear Metro, extension of the Manchester Metrolink, redevelopment of Birmingham New Street station, improvements to the rail lines to Sheffield and between Liverpool and Leeds.

TAX AND DUTY

  • National Insurance threshold rises by 21 next year.
  • Corporation tax of 28% cut next year by 1% and each year afterwards to 24%.
  • Planned tax relief for the video games industry cancelled.
  • Bank levy introduced from January to generate 2 billion a year. France and Germany agree similar action.
  • Green investment bank planned and investment in digital infrastructure.
  • Planned landline duty to be abolished and private broadband expansion to be encouraged.
  • VAT to rise to 20% from January 4.
  • No new duty increase on tobacco, alcohol or fuel.
  • Cider duty rise reversed.
  • Council tax to be frozen for a year.
  • Unfair capital gains tax reform: Higher rate taxpayers to pay 28% from midnight.
  • The 10% CGT rate for entrepreneurs extended to the first 5 million of lifetime gain.
  • Personal tax allowance raised to 7,475 from April 2011.
  • Higher rate income tax threshold frozen.

PENSIONERS AND FAMILIES

  • Lasting help for pensioners, with link to earnings restored from next April or a 2.5% rise, whatever is greater.
  • Additional support for families in poverty. Child element of child tax credit increased by 150 above inflation.
  • The Chancellor sat down at 1.28pm.

Replay our live blog below from the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) as our experts assess how the emergency Budget will affect millions of consumers, employees and businesses.

ACCA experts who blogged:

  • Chas Roy-Chowdhury – Head of Taxation
  • Manos Schizas – Head of SME (Small and Medium-sized Enterprise) Policy
  • Glenn Collins – Head of UK Advisory Services
  • Henning Drager – Head of Sustainability

Four taken to hospital after 'chemical incident' at Hampshire school

FOUR people including one teenager have been rushed to hospital after a suspected chemical incident at a Hampshire school.

Firefighters and South Central Ambulance Service were called to the school shortly before 10am following reports of a chemical smell at Warblington School, Havant.

Three adults and a teenager were taken to hospital for precautionary checks.

Fire crews from Winchester Cosham and Southsea investigated but found no source of the smell, and believe it dissipated.

Pupils in classrooms were evacuated to the sports hall as a precaution and firefighters made sure the area was well ventilated.