Widow Launches Battle For Justice After Husband Dies From Asbestos-Related Cancer

Industrial Illness Experts Ask Former Workers To Get In Touch

22.08.2012

The devastated widow of a former Birmingham metal worker who died of an asbestos-related disease has launched an emotional appeal to win justice for her husband by asking for his former colleagues to come forward with vital information.

Victor Clark was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a cancer caused by exposure to asbestos, on 23 December 2010 and died just three months later on the 25 March 2011, aged 64.

The grandfather-of-one, who worked for many years in and around the Birmingham area and lived in Redditch, lost his battle with the disease just one year after celebrating his Ruby wedding anniversary with his wife Jean.

With the help of specialist asbestos lawyers at Irwin Mitchell, Jean Clark, is now seeking people who worked with her husband who may be able to provide information as to how he came into contact with the lethal fibres.

It is believed the cancer was caused by exposure to asbestos throughout Victor’s career as a metal fabricator. Between 1962 and 1968, he worked for Bigwood Brothers based at Woodfield Road in Moseley. He was responsible for carrying out metal work in the factory as well as installing fire escapes at various sites.

From 1968 to 1970, he was employed by Stern and Bell based at Warstock Lane in Birmingham where he manufactured equipment for launching explosives off the back of ships. He then moved to Down and Francis Limited in Kings Norton until 1978, where he also installed fire escapes and overhead conveyors at the Longbridge car plant.

From 1978 to 1980 he worked for Kings Insulation based in Coventry where he installed the first overhead computerised conveyors at the Lode Lane Land Rover site in Solihull. It is understood that asbestos was widely used as insulation, especially in the roof spaces at the industrial premises at these sites.

Commenting on her husband’s death, Jean said: “Victor and I had been happily married for 41 years and I miss him terribly. We had celebrated our Ruby wedding anniversary the year before he died and to lose him so suddenly has been really difficult to cope with.

“When we were told about his diagnosis we were both completely devastated. This terrible illness took him so very quickly and he suffered a great deal in the last months of his life.

“Victor worked hard all his life and to know that his work was ultimately responsible for his death is hard to bear. He had not thought about his work with asbestos for years, then all of a sudden, we were told that he had an incurable asbestos-related disease.

“I really hope that what happened to Victor serves as a warning to other workers and, in particular employers that health and safety regulations are there for a reason and should never be ignored.”

Hayley Hill, a workplace illness expert at Irwin Mitchell’s Birmingham office, representing Mrs Clarke, added: “Even in the 1950s, 60’s and 70’s employers knew about the risks associated with asbestos and the dangers of inhaling the lethal fibres.

“Mesothelioma is a terminal asbestos-related cancer. Although it can take around  20-40 years from exposure to onset of the illness, once diagnosed it can be very aggressive and painful.

“In order to help Jean in her fight for justice, we are keen to hear from workers from Bigwood Brothers between 1962 and 1968, Stern and Bell between 1968 and 1970, Down and Francis Limited between 1970 and 1978 and Kings Insulation between 1978 and 1980. 

“In addition, we would like to hear from anyone who worked at the Rover sites at Longbridge between1970 and 1978 and Lode Lane between 1978 and 1980, as they may have information about asbestos use at those Rover sites. We urge anyone with information to come forward as they may have key details about the presence of asbestos and working practices at these premises.”

Anyone who can help with any information is asked to contact Hayley Hill at Irwin Mitchell on 0370 1500 100 or email hayley.hill@irwinmitchell.com.