Obituary in memory of Clare Dimmer

Published 18 Jan 2014

Obituary in memory of Clare Dimmer, Chair of Breast Cancer UK, who passed away on Friday 17th January 2014, after a long battle with breast cancer. 

Clare will be missed by all who knew her but remembered for the huge amount of work she did to try and make the world a safer, healthier place. 

Clare was an avid campaigner and activist.  Even before being diagnosed with breast cancer, she campaigned against pesticides and environmental pollutants.  Her early struggles with eczema and asthma made her question the widespread use of pesticides and ask what sort of impact they could be having on human health.   

Clare strongly believed that environmental pollutants and chemicals were also behind the rise in breast cancer rates and, despite her own diagnosis with the disease, its gruelling treatments and caring for a young family, she was determined to do something about it and ultimately became one of the country’s leading campaigners for the removal of carcinogens in the environment – she played a leading role in getting some of the worst offenders, such as the toxic pesticide, Lindane, banned.

Clare joined the Women’s Environmental Network in the 1990s and travelled widely, speaking at conferences and lobbying MPs as well as doing workshops and training to learn genetics and the science behind cancer.  Months after going into remission in 1995, she became a Trustee and Secretary of Breast UK, which was set up to help protect patients and provide a voice for those patients suffering from the disease. In time, Breast UK became Breast Cancer UK, a charity dedicated to reducing our exposure to carcinogens.

Clare worked ceaselessly to raise awareness of the chemical causes of breast cancer.  Together with colleagues and friends, she had letters published in the British Medical Journal and The Lancet, wrote pamphlets and leaflets, put on fundraisers, balls and events, launched petitions, lobbied MPs, worked with scientists, built websites, hosted stalls, took part in exhibitions, made speeches both abroad and here in the UK  - all to raise awareness amongst politicians and members of the public of the need to take action on the chemical causes of breast cancer. 

Whilst Chair of Breast Cancer UK the charity helped fund ground-breaking research on the creation of the 3D model of breast cells for toxicological research at Ulster University (work that’s still ongoing) and successfully managed to establish an EU ban on the hormone-disrupting chemical Bisphenol-A being used in babies’ bottles.

During this time, Clare was also a founding member of the No More Breast Cancer Campaign, set up in 2005, which brought together organisations like the Cooperative Bank, the Women’s Institute and Neal’s Yard in a campaign to prevent breast cancer.   

Clare was nominated for the Daily Mail’s Inspirational Women of the Year award in 2013 and selected as one of the finalists.  She attended an event at Downing Street with Samantha Cameron where she was delighted to hear that Samantha had heeded the advice of the No More BPA Campaign and brought BPA free baby bottles.  

In her interview with the Daily Mail she said ‘The campaigning gives me energy. When I lie awake in the middle of the night thinking about what happens if the chemo fails, I can concentrate instead on a new report I’m researching.’

Clare’s legacy lives on in her numerous achievements over the years and also in Breast Cancer UK, which remains committed to pursuing her vision of preventing as many cases of breast cancer as possible. 

                                      

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