18 June 2014
Michael Lees is honoured in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2014 for his services to the wellbeing of children and teachers, receiving an Order of the British Empire, Civil Member (MBE).
Michael’s wife Gina died 13 years ago from mesothelioma, an incurable cancer of the lining of the lungs, caused by exposure to asbestos at a number of different schools where she worked as a nursery school teacher.
Since her death Michael has fought tirelessly to raise awareness about the dangers of asbestos in schools and to reveal the truth about the dangers of low level exposure to all types of asbestos.
Michael was instrumental in establishing the Asbestos in Schools Group (AIS) and works with the Joint Union Asbestos Committee (JUAC).
Annette Brooke MP, Chair of AIS said:
“I am so delighted that Michael's commitment and determination to raise awareness on asbestos in schools has been recognised. Although driven by the sad circumstances of his wife's death, he continues to fight for the safety of current and future teachers and pupils. People in Whitehall are listening and I know Michael will continue fighting until action is achieved on having a long term strategy for the removal of asbestos from our schools.”
On behalf of the Joint Unions Asbestos Committee, Julie Winn said:
“Michael is dedicated to fighting for the truth and is committed to improving asbestos management in UK schools. He is truly inspirational and all members of JUAC are proud to work with him. This honour is testament to his expertise, dedication and hard work. Michael can rest assured that he has done all he can to prevent future deaths from asbestos in schools. We call now on the Government to take positive action by following the All Party Parliamentary Group – Asbestos in Schools’ recommendations*.”
NASUWT, General Secretary, Chris Keates (Ms), said:
“The NASUWT warmly congratulates Michael on the honour he has received in recognition of his tireless campaigning to make our schools safer places for children and young people, for the workforce and for local communities.”
NUT General Secretary, Christine Blower said:
“The award of an MBE to Michael Lees is fantastic news and richly deserved. Michael’s tireless campaigning has been inspirational and staff and pupils across the UK owe him a huge debt of gratitude. The NUT looks forward to continuing to work with Michael, who was the recipient of the Fred and Anne Jarvis Award for campaigning on educational issues at this year’s NUT Annual Conference, to make our schools safe from asbestos.”
Notes for Editors
The Asbestos in Schools Group
The Asbestos in Schools Group (AiS) is a campaigning organisation with an overall aim of making schools safe from the dangers of asbestos. AiS is non-party political.
The Joint Union Asbestos Committee
The Joint Union Asbestos Committee (JUAC) was formed in 2010 and is a trade union campaigning committee comprising the 10 unions: Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL); Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL); National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT); NASUWT; National Union of Teachers (NUT); Voice; plus the education sections of, UNISON, Unite UCATT and the GMB: The Group has the objective of making all UK schools and colleges safe from the dangers of asbestos. All the unions in JUAC are also members of the Asbestos in Schools (AIS) campaign.
JUAC is a non-party political group and both JUAC and AIS have a common interest in making UK schools and colleges safe from the dangers of asbestos, both for staff and pupils. In the long term we wish to see all asbestos removed from all schools. However we recognise that, realistically, the focus in the short and medium term must be on safe management of asbestos in schools and colleges.
Chair of JUAC Julie Winn,