Birmingham Man Seeks Former Colleagues Following Asbestos Cancer Diagnosis

Appeal For Information Over Mesothelioma


A retired Birmingham assembly worker, who has been diagnosed with an aggressive asbestos-related cancer, is appealing for his former colleagues to provide information about the working conditions he endured to help him in is legal battle for justice.

Grandfather-of-three Derrick Smelt, 66, from Bromford Bridge in Birmingham, had only just retired when he was given the shocking news in April 2011 that he was suffering from mesothelioma, caused by exposure to lethal asbestos fibres.

Derrick believes that he came into contact with asbestos during the 27 years he was employed as an assembly worker for oven and gas fire manufacturer, Parkinson Cowan Ltd, who at the time were based in Stechford. He has now turned to specialist asbestos lawyers at the Birmingham office of Irwin Mitchell to investigate working conditions at the company.

Derrick explained: “I remember having to fit door seals around the ovens which looked like lengths of rope but were very dusty. Although they were later made from fibre glass and then rubber, when I first started working there I believe they were made from asbestos.

“Later I worked on a section of the assembly line making ‘Constor’ storage heaters. I had to fit insulation blocks into the units which I believe were also made from asbestos. Working on this section was a really dusty job and it was the one area of the factory that my workmates and I disliked the most. When I used to return home each day, my clothes were covered in dust.

“You never think anything of it at the time; you just get on with your job. I certainly never expected it would come back to haunt me so many years later.”

He continued: “I first started feeling unwell around Christmas 2010. I had pains in my chest and lower back but at first I just put it down to muscle strain. My GP referred me for an X-ray, but even then I didn’t expect them to find anything seriously wrong.

“I was totally devastated when I was given the diagnosis and the doctors told me that my illness was most likely as a result of being exposed to asbestos.

“I worked hard all my life and having only recently retired, I had been looking forward to enjoying more quality time with my wife, Joy, and our family. Instead I am having to endure chemotherapy treatment and my health is deteriorating.”

Iain Shoolbred, an asbestos-related disease expert at Irwin Mitchell representing Derrick, said: “Mesothelioma is an incurable asbestos related cancer. Although it can take upwards of 20 years from exposure to onset of the illness, once diagnosed it can be very aggressive and painful.

“Sadly many employers did not do enough to manage the risks of asbestos exposure despite knowing the dangers of the material. In order to obtain justice for Derrick and his family it is important that we speak with any of his former workmates who can tell us about working conditions within the Parkinson Cowan factory between 1966 and 1992.”

Anyone who can assist with information should contact Iain Shoolbred at Irwin Mitchell Solicitors on 0370 1500 100 or contact

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