Wallsend Widow Seeks Asbestos Witnesses

Tyneside Shipyard asbestos claims


A Wallsend widow has paid tribute to her husband of 59 years who died of lung cancer after he was exposed to asbestos while working on the Tyneside shipyards – and urged anyone who worked with him to come forward to help a compensation claim.

Ted Parkins was 78 years old and had suffered from lung cancer for five years when he died in July 2007. His wife Winifred, now 82, said he was so popular that there was barely room for people to stand at his funeral.

She has now instructed industrial illness experts at law firm Irwin Mitchell to pursue a compensation claim against his former employers. The firm is looking for any of Mr Parkins' former colleagues to come forward and assist the claim.

Mr Parkins, a non-smoker, was heavily exposed to asbestos while working on a number of shipyards in the 1950s, 60s and 70s, including Wigham and Richardson, Vickers Naval Yard, Wallsend Dry Dock and Swan Hunter.

Mrs Parkins, who has six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren and is herself a pleural plaques sufferer, said: "Ted was very well-loved. He was an excellent provider and he always took care of everybody – he always helped to get jobs for his friends when they needed them.

"It's terrible what the companies did. People just got on with their work in those days – you didn't ask questions, but he would come home with asbestos all over his hair – it was just hanging off the pipes where he was working.

"He was such a social person but the cancer put a stop to that. He could hardly breathe and stopped going out – he would just sit in, watching TV and reading instead. Plenty of people would come to visit him but it just wasn't the same."

Roger Maddocks, partner and industrial disease expert at Irwin Mitchell, said anybody with any information about Mr Parkins' employment history.

As well as being employed directly by the shipyards, Mr Parkins was employed by contractors including Seaguard Ltd, Metnor Ltd and Darlington Insulation Company Ltd.

Mr Maddocks said: "Mr Parkins was a very popular man who was forced to spend his final years suffering because his employers exposed him to asbestos.

"Mrs Parkins was devastated by the loss of her husband and we are keen to talk to anyone who knew Ted Parkins, whether or not they worked in the shipyards with him, and who may have information that would assist us in our fight for compensation for his widow."

Anybody with any information should contact Emma Dumbleton at Irwin Mitchell on 0191 279 0105.