The UK’s first-ever memorial to victims of the Thalidomide drug disaster was unveiled today in Harrogate(23 November 2012)
The memorial marks the 50th anniversary of the drug being withdrawn from the UK market, a 5m tall copper beech tree with a plaque to commemorate the babies who were born with horrific defects and the families it ultimately affected.
In May 1962 the drug – prescribed to pregnant women as a cure for morning sickness – was withdrawn after it was linked to crippling side effects in new born babies.
A least 2,000 in the UK were born with deformities brought about directly by Thalidomide, and more than half of them died within their first year. An unknown number also died in the womb.
Common deformities included missing or shortened limbs, blindness, brain damage, missing sexual organs and missing internal organs. There a total of 469 Thalidomiders still alive in the UK today.
The Thalidomide Memorial is being paid for by Harrogate businessman Guy Tweedy who is himself a victim of the drug.