Witnesses Needed To Win Compensation For Washington Cancer Sufferer

04.10.2005

A 57 year-old Washington man left terminally ill after being exposed to asbestos is appealing for witnesses to come forward to help in his battle for compensation.

Alan Shaw of Stanhope, Oxclose has been diagnosed with the asbestos-related condition pleural mesothelioma, a form of terminal lung cancer.

The former joiner, who now works as a warehouseman at Hilary Blinds Ltd on the Glover Industrial Estate, was exposed to deadly asbestos dust during the course of his work in the 1970s at Press Construction.

The parent company of Press Construction is the multi-national building and construction company, AMEC plc.

He recalled: "I remember hearing that Press Construction required joiners from some men who used to work for Derek Couch, my previous employer.

"This was round about 1975. I went and enquired about a job and was offered employment as a joiner by the foreman John Hunter.

"I started work on a large contract, building a warehouse for the North East Electricity Board on the Pattinson Industrial Estate in Washington."

"It was during this time that I was exposed to asbestos. My job was to fix asbestos panels to the steel framework of the warehouse.

"The work involved a lot of cutting and drilling of asbestos and I remember large amounts of dust would form in the air and gather on clothes and skin.

"Despite my concerns, I was not given a protective mask until I had been working with the asbestos for about two weeks."

The warehouse was eventually sold to Exel Logistics before current operators Ferguson Transport took it over in recent years.

Doctors at Sunderland Royal Hospital diagnosed mesothelioma earlier this year and are monitoring Alan Shaw's condition, but he has been told there is no cure.

Although still able to work, the condition leaves him with breathing problems and he is only able to walk short distances.

"I have got a bad chest and breathing is difficult.

"I was initially have been told that I could have radical surgery to substantially extend my life expectancy but my Consultant is of the view that the surgery is experimental and is not proven to extend life.

"This may allow me to live for another 10 - 15 years."

Alan Shaw worked for Press Construction for about two years before leaving to become a machine operator at Shield Packaging.

Newcastle-based personal injury lawyers Irwin Mitchell are in the process of preparing court proceedings against AMEC plc.

Legal representative Neil Wilkinson has had difficulty in finding people who knew Alan Shaw and worked with him at this time.

He is appealing for witnesses to come forward to confirm his client's exposure to asbestos.

"Alan is relatively young to be diagnosed with this illness. I am appealing for anybody who remembers him and worked with him on the construction of the warehouse at Pattinson Industrial estate to come forward," said Neil Wilkinson.

"Their information could prove vital in securing compensation, which we expect to be in excess of £200,000.

"I am particularly keen to hear from anyone who can confirm that asbestos panels were used during the construction of electricity board's warehouse."

Anyone able to help should contact Neil Wilkinson on 0191 2790100.