Daughter Of Pyestock Worker Appeals For Help In Asbestos Investigation

Specialist Lawyers Instructed In Battle For Justice After Mesothelioma Victim’s Death


The daughter of a mechanical fitter who died of an asbestos-related cancer is appealing to his former colleagues of the National Gas Turbine Establishment, known as Pyestock, in Hampshire to help with an investigation into his death.

Thomas Bird, (Tom to his friends), died aged 77, in March last year of mesothelioma, a terminal cancer of the lining of the lungs caused by exposure to asbestos many years ago.

Mr Bird’s daughter, Julie Bellm, instructed specialist asbestos-related disease lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate his exposure to the deadly dust and to seek justice on his behalf.

Lawyers believe that Thomas Bird was exposed to harmful asbestos dust and fibres while working as an apprentice fitter at the National Gas Turbine Establishment, Pyestock, near Farnborough in Hampshire from 1951 until 1956. The plant was at the forefront of gas turbine and jet engine research, development and testing but closed in 2000.

Martyn Hayward, an expert asbestos lawyer at Irwin Mitchell representing Mr Bird’s family, said: “Mesothelioma is a terrible illness for which there is, sadly, no cure. It usually takes several decades after exposure to asbestos before the symptoms begin, making it difficult for people to recall where and how they came into contact with the dangerous dust.

“Employers should have been aware of the dangers of exposing workers to asbestos during the 1950s but sadly many workers were severely let down and this case highlights the devastating consequences that exposure to asbestos can have.

“We would like to speak people who worked alongside Mr Bird at Pyestock as they may be able to help shed more light on the working conditions and provide crucial information to help his family to access the justice they deserve.”

Mr Bird, who grew up in Leire, Leicestershire, first began to suffer from a dry cough in January 2012. He began to suffer serious breathlessness as the year progressed and, by December 2012, he had to visit his GP who sent him for immediate chest x-rays at Coventry Hospital. On New Year’s Eve, he was finally given the devastating diagnosis that he was suffering from the terminal cancer mesothelioma.

Mr Bird first started an apprenticeship with the then Ministry of Supply at the National Gas Turbine Establishment, Pyestock, Farnborough, Hampshire on 20 August 1951. He completed his training as a fitter in June 1956 before going on to work for AEI (Rugby) Ltd at their Mill Road site, Rugby.

As part of his apprenticeship duties as a trainee mechanical fitter Mr Bird, was exposed to asbestos when working on pipe work and valves to remove asbestos lagging. 

Lawyers allege that Mr Bird was not provided with the appropriate breathing protection while carrying out this work and, as a result, he developed an asbestos-related cancer many years later as a result of exposure to the hazardous dust.

Julie, from Blaby, in Leicestershire, said: “My father was a remarkable man and was the sole carer for my mother who suffered with Dementia. When he first realised he was ill, he tried to put a brave face on but, eventually, he had to visit his doctor because he was in so much pain and was later given the devastating news of his cancer.

“To think that he became so ill and ultimately lost his life simply because of the job he did around 50-60 years ago is extremely difficult to come to terms with.

“I hope that some of my father’s former colleagues will now come forward to help Irwin Mitchell investigate his exposure to asbestos so that we can better understand how and why he came into contact with the harmful substance.”

Anyone who believes they may be able to help should contact Martyn Hayward at Irwin Mitchell on 0114 274 4615 or email martyn.hayward@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.