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League greats walk to highlight asbestos risks

Queensland rugby league legend Trevor Gillmeister, with Aiden, 17, and mum Sandra Williamson and her dad Don Booth with students from Chanel College.
Queensland rugby league legend Trevor Gillmeister, with Aiden, 17, and mum Sandra Williamson and her dad Don Booth with students from Chanel College. Luka Kauzlaric

QUEENSLAND rugby league legend Trevor 'The Axe' Gillmeister will take a walk today joined by Gary Larson, another former football great who was born in Gladstone.

A good 50km down the track, Gillmeister is aiming to stop overnight in Bororen, as part of a 1300km trek from Townsville to Brisbane.

The 50-year-old former Gladstone man is walking an average of 48km a day for 28 days to raise awareness and funds for asbestos cancer victims.

The disease took his father Ron's life in 2009, and he will arrive in Brisbane on October 27, almost five years to the day after his father died.

"My father died from the disease which was related to his many years working at an alumina plant at Gladstone in the early '70s," Gillmeister said.

"Watching him die like that is one of the toughest things I've done. He was such a strong bloke who had a big impact on my life.

"Out of 35 of his crew, 25 are dead."

Gillmeister is a dedicated supporter of Asbestos Related Disease Support Society of Queensland and initially hoped to raise $100,000 to help those with the disease and their families.

He also aims to bring awareness to the dangers of exposure to asbestos.

Gillmeister and his entourage walked into Gladstone from Raglan on Monday morning.

He met with students at Chanel College to talk to them about his walk, asbestos, and of course a bit of footy.

"They're worried about a spike in another 10-20 years' time because of all this DIY work," he said.

He told the students the group had been walking for two weeks, and were rotating through a number of walking shoes.

"It's been a bit tiring but very rewarding," he said. "We started rating the smell of road kill on a scale of one to 10!" 

ABOUT ASBESTOS:

  • Until the mid-1980s, asbestos was widely used in a range of home-building materials.
  • Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous silicate mineral.
  • It becomes a health risk when asbestos fibres are released into the air and breathed in.
  •  Asbestos must be removed by a qualified individual.
  •  Find out more at qld.gov.au/asbestos or call 13 74 68.

Family joins the cause after losing loved one

THE Booth family, previously from Gladstone and now living on the Gold Coast, decided to join Trevor Gillmeister on the Walk for Awareness.

Sandra Williamson, whose mother died last year from an asbestos-related disease, her father Don Booth and 17-year-old son Aiden also joined her.

The Booth family has been a sponsor of the "senior proficiency award" at Chanel College, which was dedicated to Sandra's sister Lynda who died in a car crash, but the new trophy has been engraved with her mum Helen's name and was presented to the school yesterday.

"I knew Gilly through work and it was close to my heart so I told him I would support him. I didn't think he'd come up with a 1700km walk but I said I'm in," she said.

"There was a need to get the word out there about asbestos."

Aiden said he was having a great time on the road and Gilly was pretty inspiring.

"He's so determined to make everyone proud and it's been really good," he said.

"My grandma has definitely given me some inspiration to get through this walk ... I'm doing this for her."

Topics:  asbestos editors picks gary larson rugby league trevor gillmeister



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