THE Thalidomide Trust, based in Eaton Socon has been awarded £20million by the Government to help the survivors of one of Britain s worst peacetime, manmade disasters. More than 450 people in Britain were left with missing or deformed limbs after their

THE Thalidomide Trust, based in Eaton Socon has been awarded £20million by the Government to help the survivors of one of Britain's worst peacetime, manmade disasters.

More than 450 people in Britain were left with missing or deformed limbs after their mothers took the Thalidomide drug as a morning-sickness treatment, marketed by Distillers Biochemicals Ltd, in the 1950s and 1960s.

Now, after years of campaigning, the Government has announced a £20million funding contribution to Thalidomide Trust.

The money will be used to meet, and improve the health needs of the 466 Thalidomide survivors, who receive assistance from the trust.

As part of the announcement, an apology was issued, with Minister Mike O'Brien MP, expressing the Government's "sincere regret and deep sympathy" for the injury endured by those affected.

Director of the trust, Dr Martin Johnson described the Thalidomide scandal as "Britain's worst peacetime, manmade disaster".

He said: "Thursday's funding award announcement and apology marked a historical day for the cause. The trust and some very determined campaigners have been key to achieving this success."

The deputy chairman of the trust, businessman Guy Tweedy, who was born with shortened arms and now runs an advertising and property company in Harrogate said: "I have been campaigning for seven years for this."

Referring to the campaign run by Sir Harold Evans as editor of The Sunday Times in the 1970s, which achieved the first compensation, Thalidomide survivors received, Mr Tweedy said: "What Harold Evans did for us was remarkable. He could have gone to prison for disclosing the information he did."

Jonathan Djanogly, MP for Huntingdon welcomed this latest announcement.

He said: "I am delighted to hear this news. It is important firstly because the ageing Thalidomiders have been showing unique symptoms that were often not fundable within normal NHS remits - this will help that problem. Secondly and importantly, this is the first time since the tragedy that the state has faced up to the position not only that it was partly responsible for what happened but that it should make a payment to help the survivors."

Mr Djanogly added: "I congratulate the Thalidomide Trust and its national advisory committee on working so hard to get this admirable and just outcome."

The Thalidomide Trust is based at Colmworth Business Park and was founded in 1973 by air force officer, Ron Gardiner who was based at RAF Brampton.