Wife Remembers Asbestos Victim

South West Asbestos Lawyer Speaks Out


The wife of an asbestos victim is spending what would have been the couple's 35th wedding anniversary alone.

Susan Purnell's husband David died aged 59 at his home in Aston - a year after first visiting his GP with symptoms caused by working with asbestos.

When the scaffolder began getting out of breath and struggling to walk far in March 2008, he put it down to being a little unfit, but the symptoms intensified and he began sweating a lot.

Mr Parnell had in fact developed mesothelioma after coming into contact with asbestos at work during the 1970s.

He was told he would not live to see Christmas the same year he was diagnosed, but he managed to survive long enough to spend it with his wife, her mother, their two children, and two granddaughters.

"We knew that this would be his last Christmas," said Susan, 54. "It was a very emotional day. David wanted to make a speech, but he brought everyone to tears.

"In his final weeks I promised him I would do what I could to help raise awareness of this terrible condition."

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Helen Grady from law firm Irwin Mitchell said: “As an asbestos lawyer, I sadly come across cases like this all the time.  It is of much concern that Mr Parnell was exposed in the 1970’s when there was Health & Safety legislation in place designed to prevent exposure and inhalation without proper protection. 

"It saddens me that more and more often I am coming across cases where my client’s have been exposed in and around Bristol as late as the 1990’s and sometimes even in fairly recent times. 

“One case I dealt with concerns exposure whilst my client was working for Shield Environmental Services in Bristol.  He was exposed in the 1990’s when protective legislation should have been strongly adhered to.  He was collecting old rubble and pipes lagged with asbestos from old buildings that were being gutted. 

“The asbestos riddled items should have been properly bagged and sealed and sadly they were not.  Consequently asbestos fibres from the items were blown into his cab.  The back of the lorry and cab had not been screened off.  

“He was placing these items in the back of his lorry and taking them to the tip.  His supplied paper overalls were then removed by him and placed in the tip with the asbestos items.  However, he was later required to sweep out his cab with a dustpan and brush, and at the same time inhaling the asbestos fibres and dust from the items.

“I believe ongoing awareness is the only way to prevent employers from breaching the legislation.  It will also ensure that employees will speak out when they see that the laws are not being stringently adhered to. 

“As for asbestos in our homes, this is safe if left and homeowners will need to be more particular about their choice of builder, choosing properly regulated builders who they trust to alert them should specialist asbestos removal firms need to be brought in to safety remove any asbestos before work is started. “