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Thursday, November 26, 2020
At the 2020 HVN Awards 2020, BESA have recognised the work of clean air campaigner Rosamund Kissi-Debrah. BESA have been working to support Ros since 2018 and has been a guest speaker at the last two BESA conferences as well as providing inspiration for the Health & Wellbeing in Buildings Group.
BESA’s nominee for this year's Gold Award is described both as "an inspiration" and "an unstoppable force for change". She has used her own personal tragedy to try and make a difference to the lives of tens of thousands of children and their families.
Since the tragic death of her daughter Ella in 2013, Rosamund Kissi-Debrah has become a tireless campaigner for the protection of children from the impacts of air pollution. Ros has established the Ella Roberta Family Foundation (ellaroberta.org) in her daughter's memory.
The Foundation aims to improve the lives of children affected by air pollution by raising awareness, campaigning for better treatment and for everyone's "fundamental right to breathe clean air".
Ella died as the result of a rare and severe form of asthma triggered by her exposure to air pollution. Ella lived 25 metres from London's South Circular Road, which has notoriously high levels of pollution. The world-renowned asthma expert Professor Stephen Holgate said there was a "striking association" between the times she was admitted to hospital and recorded spikes in nitrogen dioxide and PM10s in the area.
Ros has shown incredible tenacity and dedication to this cause. She regularly appears on TV and radio and addresses a wide variety of groups from schools to health professionals and politicians. She has been instrumental in lobbying for the introduction of more stringent legal measures, including working with BESA and Professor Holgate to push for the inclusion of IAQ in the forthcoming Environment Bill.
After years of campaigning, the Rt Hon Geoffrey Cox QC recently ruled that a new inquest into Ella's death should be held in the High Court to establish whether the government failed in its duty to prevent her death; so creating a significant legal precedent.
Ros is now a World Health Organisation advocate for clean air and is also the Honorary President of the BESA Health & Wellbeing in Buildings Group - a role she has used to motivate the building engineering industry to aspire to the highest IAQ standards and to create more practical and affordable solutions.
Our industry owes her a huge debt of gratitude by bringing our efforts to improve IAQ to a much wider audience and helping persuade politicians of the health implications of air quality.
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