FORMULA One engineer Rob Smedley is helping raise awareness of mesothelioma by hosting a fundraising auction and dinner.

The auction, which will take place on Saturday, June 2 at 7pm at Ramside Hall Durham, will have a number of ‘money can’t buy’ Formula One memorabilia and experiences, as well as a three-course dinner and prize draw.

Smedley, who is head of performance engineering at Williams Racing, previous worked for Ferrari and is a household name in Formula One, originally comes from the North East where many of his family still live.

The Smedley family have personal experience of mesothelioma; a type of cancer caused almost exclusively by exposure to asbestos as Smedley’s father was diagnosed with the disease in 2015 and died two years later. The family were in touch with Mesothelioma UK, a national charity dedicated to improving the care and treatment of people with mesothelioma, and began attending support meetings.

Mesothelioma affects approximately 2,700 people in the UK each year. There is no cure and limited options for treatment.

The Smedley family realised how little research there is regarding this type of cancer within the UK, with people often thinking “It’s a dying cancer and it won’t happen to me.” Mesothelioma receives little funding compared to other cancers and the Smedley’s became aware that research is so desperately needed.

Samantha Cox, from Newton Aycliffe, learnt about the devastating effect of these diseases first-hand when her father was diagnosed with Mesothelioma. Samantha, founder of PRASAG (Paul Readhead Asbestos Support Awareness Group) decided to create a group in memory of her father. Samantha is a qualified Counsellor and with the assistance of Leah Taylor (Mesothelioma UK) and Chris Knighton (MKMRF) PRASAG is able to provide a professional holistic approach, which encompasses all areas of supporting, such as emotional, physical, social and financial.

PRASAG provides support and awareness for people affected by asbestos related diseases and their families across the north east of England.