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Father of victim Arthur Beyless
"You've got to look for something good to come out of what happened"
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Wednesday, 21 March, 2001, 08:11 GMT
CJD report 'won't help me'
Arthur Beyless
Arthur Beyless: I didn't really want to know
By BBC Environment Correspondent Tim Hirsch

Arthur Beyless has now got the answer to what probably caused his daughter Pamela to contract the agonising brain disease vCJD, leading to her death at the age of 24 two-and-a-half years ago.

It is something he really did not want to know.

What I've been told has not really sunk in, but then it has not sunk in properly that Pamela has died

Arthur Beyless
At his home in a neat suburb of Leicester, I met Mr Beyless shortly after he was briefed by the head of the investigation team looking into the mystery of why five people with close connections to the nearby village of Queniborough all came down with the human form of BSE, even though only 95 people in the whole of the UK have so far succumbed.

His telephone was ringing constantly, and he had given up answering it.

"I get calls from Swiss television, German newspapers, people from America, all wanting to speak to me about Pamela," says Mr Beyless, a milkman.

"I'm just exhausted now and I have to get up at 2am to do my rounds, so I've got to stop somewhere."

'Grieving process'

He is the only one of the relatives of the five victims of the so-called Queniborough cluster who has courageously chosen to speak publicly about the quest for answers, which could help to solve some of the remaining questions about this terrible illness.

He shows no impatience with the curiosity of journalists, and speaks eloquently and courteously.

Five people died of the disease in the village
Five people died of the disease in the village
"What I've been told has not really sunk in, but then it has not sunk in properly that Pamela has died. It sounds strange, perhaps psychologists could explain it. Maybe it's just part of the grieving process."

Unlike some bereaved relatives who feel driven to find answers to why their loved ones died, Mr Beyless has involved himself in this macabre inquiry for entirely selfless reasons.

"Now I have been given all the details of exactly how Pamela probably contracted the disease, but as a father it is not something I really wanted to know. I felt I had to co-operate with the inquiry because it could help to put up bricks in the wall of knowledge about CJD, and maybe help scientific understanding which one day could lead to a cure.

"I'd compare it with having someone killed by a gun. Someone can come along and tell you all about the ballistics of the gun, exactly which organs the bullet passed through and everything. But do you really want to know that? It isn't going to help me, but it may help others."

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21 Mar 01 | Health
Villagers await CJD answers
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