PROFESSOR DEREK BRYCE-SMITH started the British campaign against lead in petrol in the late 1960s. He incurred immense opposition from industry, government and the scientific establishment and was effectively marginalised. He was eventually vindicated in the 1980s and awarded a silver medal by the Royal Society of Chemistry for his pioneering work. Now largely retired as Emeritus Professor of Organic Chemistry at Reading University, he is still active in research on the effects of lead.

JILL RUNNETTE, a Wimbledon housewife, spearheaded the drive for lead- free fuel as the guiding spirit of the Campaign Against Lead in Petrol in the 1970s. With terrier-like persistence and immense staying power she and a few companions got the issue on to the political agenda and outflanked established scientific and Civil Service resistance to get ministers to acknowledge the dangers of the toxic metal. She became an arts teacher in the early 1980s and is now retired.

DES WILSON took up the baton in 1982 and made the issue one of the most celebrated campaigns of the 1980s. By relentless and assiduous campaigning, with a tiny team, he created such a head of steam that the Government agreed within little more than a year to phase out the toxic metal. He went on to become chairman of Friends of the Earth, found the Freedom of Information campaign and become president of the Liberal Democrats. He is now Director of Public Affairs for the British Airports Authority.