Widow Launches Battle For Answers Following Husband’s Cancer Death

Asbestos Experts appeal to Carpenter’s Former Colleagues For Help


The devastated wife of a former carpenter, who worked on the redevelopment of Birmingham University and other sites across the city, is appealing to his ex-colleagues to get in touch with information about the presence of asbestos dust after he died of a related cancer.

Matthew Barbour lost his fight for life in February 2011, aged 74, after battling mesothelioma, a cancer in the lining of the lungs for nearly two years. The Assistant Coroner for Birmingham recorded a verdict of death by Industrial Disease at the Inquest concluded on 27 June 2011.

He left behind his heartbroken wife of 44-years Mary, a daughter and three grandchildren, who are now involved in fund raising for a mesothelioma research charity.

The family have instructed asbestos experts at law firm Irwin Mitchell to help discover how and why Matthew was exposed to the deadly dust. Specialist lawyers at the firm are appealing to his former colleagues to get in touch with information about the presence of asbestos and working conditions at the companies he worked for.

Hayley Hill, an expert industrial disease lawyer at Irwin Mitchell’s Birmingham office representing the family, said: “After Matthew’s diagnosis in August 2009 he remembered numerous places where he came into contact with asbestos dust and fibres while he worked as a carpenter and we’d like to hear from any of his former colleagues as they may have vital evidence that could bring justice for his family.

“We’d like to speak with anyone who worked with Matthew while he was an apprentice carpenter and joiner at Frank Deeley Ltd in Harborne in 1952 to 1956. He later worked as a sub-contractor for Unilock Partitions in 1963 and 1964.

“He worked on a University of Birmingham site while employed by WJ Simms & Cooke Ltd, a Nottingham based company, between 1965 and 1966 as a carpenter, and I’m also keen to speak to any of Matthew’s former colleagues at Percy Cox Ltd from 1966 to 1967.

“Even in the 50s and 60s employers knew the risks associated with inhaling harmful asbestos fibres. I would like to speak with any of Matthew’s former colleagues at the companies mentioned so we can help get the answers his family desperately need.”

His wife Mary, who lives in Selly Oak said: “This terrible illness took him so quickly, we still struggle to come to terms with the fact he’s gone. He suffered greatly in the last months of his life and it was very hard to watch. Everyone misses him terribly. He doted on our grandchildren and was a true family man.

“During his career as a carpenter he was involved in refurbishing work where he had to cut asbestos sheets to size using a saw which was created lots of dust. He also refurbished buildings, knocking down temporary structures which he believed had been constructed using asbestos which caused a lot of dust to be kicked up.

“I just hope anyone with information, no matter how small, gets in touch so we can get answers about why he was taken from us.”

Anyone who has any information on the companies mentioned should contact Hayley Hill at Irwin Mitchell on 0121 214 5407 or email Hayley.hill@irwinmitchell.com.