Asbestos Victim Appeals For Former Colleagues To Help Battle For Justice

Expert Lawyers Investigating Asbestos Exposure At Glasgow Factories

08.08.2012

A former Rolls Royce worker now suffering from a terminal asbestos-related illness is appealing for his former colleagues from two Glasgow factories to help with information about the working conditions he endured as he seeks answers about why he was exposed to the deadly dust.

Father-of-five and grandfather-of-11 Gerald MacEwan says he has been left heartbroken that he will spend less time with his family and will not be able to watch his young grandchildren grow up after being diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, a form of cancer, in April this year.

Specialist asbestos lawyers at Irwin Mitchell are now representing Gerald in his fight for justice and have asked any of his former work colleagues to help with information about the working conditions at two Rolls Royce factories in Hillington and East Kilbride, Glasgow, where it is believed he was exposed to asbestos.

The 66-year-old consulted doctors after suffering back pain and a persistent cough in August 2011. Chest x-rays confirmed he was suffering from pleural plaques, an asbestos-related disease and, just nine months later, as his condition worsened, he was then diagnosed with mesothelioma, a terminal cancer caused by asbestos exposure. 

Gerald said: “I was absolutely distraught to learn that I have mesothelioma. It shocked the whole family and we are all struggling to come to terms with it.

“My breathing is now getting worse and has stopped me seeing my grandchildren as much as I want, as I have to be careful not to over do it. We have 11 grandchildren between us, eight of them living locally, and I am missing seeing them.

“The cancer has made me very tired all the time and I just don’t feel like going out and walking as much as we used to. It has disrupted life for all the family.”

Gerald carried out general sales and delivery jobs before starting work at Rolls-Royce Limited in Hillington Industrial Estate, Glasgow in 1964. He was a timekeeper at the plant which made blades for aeroplane engines and was exposed to asbestos there during repair and maintenance of the building.

Gerald, now living in Gateshead, said: “The workmen were always making alterations within the building, knocking down walls and ceilings. There was asbestos lagging around pipe work in the factory and when repairs and alterations were done the lagging would be replaced.

“It was quite a dusty environment but we just carried on working among it. We would have to clean the dust off our desks but we were never warned by the management about the dangers of asbestos and weren’t given any breathing protection to wear. I want to know why we were exposed to asbestos at a time when our bosses should have known better.”

In 1965 he moved to another, newer Rolls-Royce factory in East Kilbride where he was an assistant engineering buyer, making sure the factory had the right parts and materials. 

As well as similar maintenance work in the offices, including the removal of ceiling tiles which exposed lagged pipe work, Gerald believes he may have been exposed to asbestos when he visited the main factory to check on supplies. This involved going into the plant room containing machinery and boilers with pipes leading off lagged with asbestos. Gerald remembers maintenance people working on the boilers and pipes while he was there. 

Isobel Lovett, an asbestos-related disease expert at Irwin Mitchell representing Gerald, said: “Mesothelioma is an aggressive and incurable cancer and causes much distress and disruption to the victims and their families. Sadly, in the 1960s and 70s, many employers did not do enough to manage the risks of asbestos exposure despite knowing the dangers of the material.

“We believe Gerald was exposed to asbestos throughout his employment in the two Glasgow factories in Hillington and East Kilbride and would like to speak to his former colleagues or anyone who may have information about the working conditions at Rolls Royce in the 1960s to contact us.”

Anyone with information should contact Isobel Lovett on 0191 2790104 or email Isobel.lovett@irwinmitchell.com.

If you or a loved one has been affected by an asbestos related illness, our solicitors can help you to claim compensation. See our Asbestos Claims page for more information.