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Son’s Appeal After Mum Dies From Asbestos Illness Caused By Washing Husband’s Overalls

Lawyers Appeal For Ex-Council Workers To Help Asbestos Investigation

31.01.2013

The devoted son of a woman who died from an asbestos-related cancer is appealing for his dad’s former work colleagues to help investigate the working conditions he endured as it is believed his mum came into contact with the deadly dust while washing his work clothes.

Elsie Winter, a mother of two and grandmother of six, died from mesothelioma on 8 October 2010 aged 83. It is believed Elsie’s health problems were caused by the contact she had with her husband George’s work clothes, which were often contaminated with asbestos dust.

It is believed George, who died in October 2005, came into contact with asbestos while working as a labourer at Chilton Council, which later became Sedgefield Council and is now part of Durham County Council, between March 1966 and April 1986.

Elsie’s son Kevin Winter, of Ferry Hill in County Durham, is working with asbestos-related disease experts at Irwin Mitchell as he seeks justice for his mum. He is joining lawyers at the firm to appeal for people who may have worked alongside his dad to get in touch and help provide information about the working conditions he may have endured.

George was responsible for carrying out repairs and maintenance on council-owned homes and properties in the area and he worked alongside other tradesmen who regularly handled asbestos. He also collected van loads of debris and waste from building projects across the district and was responsible for disposing of the remnants, which included asbestos.

Roger Maddocks, an industrial disease specialist at Irwin Mitchell’s Newcastle office representing Kevin, said: “Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer which can take decades after exposure to asbestos to develop. Companies in the 1960s knew the dangers of working with or close to asbestos but unfortunately too many did not provide adequate protection for their employees, and in turn their families.

“This is a tragic case in which a loving wife died from a devastating and incurable disease simply because she washed her husband’s filthy work clothes. We hope that George’s ex work colleagues will help us investigate why more wasn’t done by the council he worked for so that we can help Kevin get the justice for his parents.”

George and Elsie, a former seamstress, were married in 1948. She died just over two years ago after battling with the effects of mesothelioma for two years before her death.

Kevin said: “It’s absolutely devastating to think my mum suffered this terrible illness and died simply for washing my dad’s work overalls. I hope that my mum’s case shows the devastating impact asbestos can have on people’s lives, even for those who didn’t work with the deadly dust every day.

“I really want answers about why my dad, and indirectly my mum, was allowed to come into contact with asbestos without any warning from Chilton Council about how dangerous it was. I’m sure my dad would have been devastated to know he put mum in danger like this and would have done everything to protect her from it if only he’d known how dangerous it is. Hopefully with the help of his ex workmates we can get my parents the justice they deserve.”

Anyone with information about the working conditions at Chilton Council between March 1966 and April 1986 should contact Roger Maddocks at Irwin Mitchell’s Newcastle office on 0191 2790095 or email roger.maddocks@irwinmitchell.com.

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