Our Founder Freddie Astbury
Thalidomide UK's Founder/President 'Freddie Astbury' went on hunger strike on Christmas Eve 1993 to highlight that the trust fund that was setup for thalidomide survivors in 1973 was running out of money. He wanted to highlight that the health of the survivors was deteriorating, due to the extra wear and tear on their bodies relating to their disabilities.
Freddie was born without arms or legs due to his mother taking the drug thalidomide during pregnancy. When he was a child, he attended Alder Hay Children’s Hospital then has a teenager attended Queens Mary’s Hospital. His doctor at Queens Mary’s Hospital was Claus Newman in the 70s
He spent most of his childhood in the city where he was born ‘Chester’ attending able-bodied school Blacon High. At 17 he went to a collage for young people with physical disabilities in Cheltenham ‘The National Star College. He married his first wife ‘Janet’ when he was 21yrs, which ended within a year. Freddie has a son ‘Dean’ from a previous relationship.
1991 he joined the Labour party as there disability advisor, which included working with people who had physical and mental disability and had been abused in residential care homes.
1993 Freddie went on hunger strike on Christmas Eve (1993) to highlight the fight for thalidomiders in the UK and founded Thalidomide UK.
1995, he worked in the local youth centre with young people who had drug problems.
2000 when Pharmion announced that, they wanted a license for thalidomide in Europe under strict guidelines Freddie put the guidelines to the test and managed to buy the drug easily.
2000+ Freddie as worked closely with The World Health Organisation and The European Medicines Agency regarding medicines that cause birth defects i.e. thalidomide, lenalidomide (Revimid) Isotretinoin (Roacutan)
2005 he lead many campaigns regarding thalidomide issues and recently paid for little babies born without arms or legs to have medical treatment in the UK.
2005, Freddie started teaching medical student about the history of the drug thalidomide and the various disabilities surrounding drug.
2010 Freddie Was admitted into hospital on November 4, 2010 with severe stomach pains. His condition got worse within 24 hours and drifted into a coma. Doctors told Freddie's family that he had less than 72 hours to live, because his bowel had burst and he had septicaemia. To make matters worse all his organs had failed and that's why he was classed as being severely ill.
Four weeks after being in a coma, Freddie suddenly woke and the medical profession was shocked and described his survival as a miracle. Unfortunately, due to his health problems he as a stoma bag. It as taken some time for him get better, but sadly he will never be the same.
He continues is work with Thalidomide UK having new meetings with those who Are responsible for the Thalidomide tragedy. Freddie is determined to make sure that justice is done for those UK thalidomide survivorsand continues to serve as president of Thalidomide UK.
Thalidomide UK have helds meetings with Diageo and Grünenthal (Meetings very constructive) 2014.
Disability Advisor to BBC’s Ann & Nick
Other media appearances in the UK include BBC News, ITN, Sky News and has appeared on other News channels around the world such as TVETVE (Spain), CNN, NBC (US), SAT1 (Germany) and Zee TV (Asia)