When Graeme Cameron was growing up in the shadows of 80ft electricity pylons marching across roundabouts and down the middle of the road, people around him were falling seriously ill.

Old people. Young people. Fit people. Teenagers. Children.

People who lived in houses built on land under overhead power cables.

People for whom a disproportionate number of cancer diagnoses became an uninvited houseguest crashing into the working class lives of a small community.

People who asked uncomfortable questions, whose unwavering determination have become the inspiration for an innovative piece of musical theatre to be staged in Glasgow next week.

“In the 1990s, the number of people who got cancer there was through the roof. I was about 11 years old. I didn’t totally understand it,” says the 34 year old fireplace fitter from the Kilmarnock estate of Shortlees, one of four Ayrshire men behind the powerful amateur production Pylon.

“But I knew people had started getting sick, and some people had died. I remember how people made accusations, they wanted tests and wanted answers. They never got the answers.”

On one street of 12 homes, the disease visited its devastation upon nine lives over the course of 15 years. In the five years until 2007, 20 died in the area, one of several so-called cluster sites across the UK where cancer rates among those living close to overhead power lines were higher than average.

Cameron felt compelled to commit his recollection of the community crusade to paper after an injury brought his successful participation in amateur athletics to an end.

“I’d dedicated my life to running,” he said. “I was a distance runner. I came fifth in the Great Scottish Run, I ran for West of Scotland, and I was club leader of Kilmarnock Harriers.

“I got surgery to try to fix it. But I can’t do endurance sports anymore.”

Instead, the keen musician and songwriter’s outlet shifted to writing, his subject settling on childhood recollection of the dispute which put his pocket of Ayrshire onto news schedules far and wide, in a David V Goliath tussle at the heart of which lay a suspicion that their proximity to power lines was having a damaging impact on their health. It wasn’t until 2012 that the pylons were dismantled and the overhead power lines replaced by underground cable.

“My wife fell pregnant and I didn’t want to feel sorry for myself anymore. I knew I had to find something to replace running.

“I wanted to write about something true to myself and one of the stories that sticks out the most from my childhood is what happened with the pylons down in Shortlees,” he said.

“I started researching it, went to people’s doors. They recognised me from when I was younger. They let me in, spoke to me, and then it started growing arms and legs and people started contacting me. The more info I got, the more it pushed me on.”

After tearing through 10,000 words, life again forced him to change tac.

“When my daughter was born I didn’t have the same time. I’d played music all my life, been in bands, played at T In the Park, and the running had replaced that.

“So I suppose I went back to my roots. When I went back to the book, I started writing songs. I wrote five in five days. And that’s when I thought we could turn this into a musical.”

The four set about reforming the piece, framing it around a central character from the streets of Shortlees, and incorporating their story-songs into the play’s narrative of inexorable morality.

“Pylon is a play about people and morals. We look at governments and big businesses, and say that if they looked at things morally, then the world would be a much better place.

“We don’t come from musical theatre backgrounds,” said Cameron, who plays drums in the on-stage band. “We play in guitar bands. We’ve stuck to our roots there too.”

Two performances in Kilmarnock’s Palace Theatre have won the four local plaudits. Next weekend, they’ll take their self-funded work, which fuses news archive, cinematography, live music and dramatic narrative to Glasgow’s Mitchell Theatre. The four, Cameron with Kilmarnock men Paul Montgomerie, Paul Mulligan, and Steven Smith, have ambitions well beyond.

“I think Pylon could go further afield,” said Cameron. “The reality is about how much money it costs to put on. We’re taking it show by show. There’s no funding. I spent four times what I said I would on it. But we’d love to do a full week in Edinburgh or Glasgow.”

The men have formed a production company called 4Point3 Collective and the recurring argument around universal access to the arts has added fuel to their fire.

“A big part of what’s driving me is to prove anybody can do this,” said Cameron. “Don’t judge me on where I’m from or how I sound. Judge me on what I create. It’s about making something credible that can stand against any other show.”

Profits for next Saturday’s performance have been pledged to the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Charity.

“A lot of people who were affected came to see the show in Kilmarnock and we got some lovely messages from some of them. But it’s still an underlying issue for people,” said Cameron.

“The point is about the way the working class are treated. If this was in a more upper class area, it would have been dealt with differently. That’s what a lot of people feel. But the fact that it was down there, in a council estate, it was dusted under the carpet.

“We don’t name any of the people I spoke to in the play. That didn’t feel right, I wanted to respect the very personal things people told me.

“Some of them have lost family members. Time has passed, people move on. But the memory of it is still there.”

Pylon, Mitchell Theatre, Glasgow, Saturday 15 September.