Vale Lyall Watts

15.1.1951 - 15.11.2014 

When Lyall passed away, Mr David Clements, Asbestoswise President, issued the following statement:

His advocacy as a person living with ARD (Asbestos Related Disease) was unique in both its breadth and depth. He was passionately interested in research into the treatment and cure for mesothelioma. He also was active in promoting education and awareness aimed at reducing future exposure to asbestos dust.

All of us at Asbestoswise were deeply saddened by the news on Saturday November 15, 2014, of the death of Lyall Henry Watts. We will miss Lyall as an active member, Asbestoswise secretary, constant contributor to our support group and most of all as a compassionate friend.

We send our sincere condolences to his partner, family and many friends and hope to celebrate his life and commitment by continuing to work towards positive change.

As the convener of the VTHC Asbestos Committee, and in the work I've been involved in over the past few years in the asbestos area, I have had the privilege of having met Lyall and working with him. He worked tirelessly to raise awareness. But he was also a fierce advocate to establish the Review into Asbestos Management, the  Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency and changes to the law. He was always an active and vocal member of our committee and many others.

Renata Musolino

Lyall Henry Watts


Asbestoswise Commemoration Service

St Paul's Cathedral, Melbourne
Wednesday November 26th, 2014

At the annual Asbestoswise Commemoration Service, always held during Asbestos Awareness Week, David Clement paid tribute to Lyall Watts. He began with a reference to José Mourinho, Portuguese soccer coach and former player, dubbed "the special one" by the media. David said, "Asbestoswise and other support groups also have a special one: Lyall Watts."

The following is based on David's notes:

"What did Lyall do for us? Lyall contributed in many ways:

  • Lyall was a constant, compassionate and informative member of the support group for six years (ADSVIC and Asbestoswise);
  • He was instrumental in the ultimate success of the two Asbestos Summits of support groups, ACTU and unions, and the Cancer Council, which led to the federal Labor Government undertaking the Asbestos Management Review and the creation of the Asbestos Eradication ad Safety Agency (AESA);
  • He was active as an advocate not only during asbestos awareness weeks, but throughout the year;
  • His advocacy covered the full range of research into mesothelioma, treatment and care of those living with ARD and prevention of future disease;
  • He very generously contributed to and was 'the face of' the Asbestoswise DVD and community broadcast;
  • He was an active and interested member of the VTHC trade union committee on asbestos;
  • He was the Secretary of Asbestoswise at a time of failing health;
  • and finally, he engaged with all groups and stakeholders.

"The breadth of this activism demonstrated many things about Lyall.

"He would not want a eulogy but I would without hesitation comment on some of his qualities:

  • His compassion for others
  • He was "A straight walker and  a straight talker"
  • His total commitment and selflessness
  • He had a much needed and healthy scepticism of government action and inaction at all levels of government  - and of us for that matter
  • On a personal note: I will remember the coffee sessions with him where I learnt to appreciate his intellectual curiosity in many things
  • His determined refusal to be defined by the asbestos diseases he contracted unknowingly
  • The extraordinary capacity he had to remain positive in the face of this adversity
  • "I've been determined not to let it take over my life," he would say. "I just try to do everything as per normal."

We should celebrate him and his work by continuing to:

  • Demand more money is spent on research
  • Do what we can for those living with ARD, their families carers and friends
  • Insist that government at all levels and other bodies do what they can to remove all future risk of asbestos dust exposure

Our condolences go to his partner Gary and his family for the passing of a remarkable human being."

Posted: December 2, 2014