Family Of Former Factory Worker Appeal For Help After Mesothelioma Diagnosis

Expert Asbestos-Related Disease Lawyers Investigating Asbestos Exposure


Andrew Robinson, Press Officer | 0113 218 6463

The family of a former factory worker diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and mesothelioma, a terminal asbestos-related cancer, is appealing to his former colleagues to come forward to provide information on where and how he may have been exposed to the deadly dust.

Roland Bowe, 80 from Barnard Castle, County Durham has recently been diagnosed with mesothelioma, an incurable cancer caused by exposure to asbestos dust and fibres decades ago. He has Alzheimer’s disease. His family has instructed expert lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate how he was exposed to the deadly dust and fibres.

His wife Norma, 79, and his two children, Corinne and Garry, recall that Roland worked from the early 1950s until 1985 at the Smart & Browns (Engineers) Ltd factory in Spennymoor, which was later taken over by Thorn Electrical Industries and Thorn EMI.

Initially Roland delivered materials to the factory floor, where they were used to make domestic appliances, but in the mid-1960s he transferred to the newly-constructed administration block where he held a management role in the Purchasing Department.

As a result of his work he spent a considerable amount of time on the factory floor, visiting a number of areas in the factory.

Roland’s family and his expert legal team at Irwin Mitchell are now appealing to his former colleagues at the factory to come forward with information on their recollection of the  presence of asbestos at the site and details on measures, if any, implemented to protect workers from inhaling asbestos.

Roger Maddocks, a Partner and expert asbestos-related disease lawyer, representing Roland, said:

Expert Opinion
“Unfortunately we currently know very little about Roland’s working life and although his family have been able to provide us with some detail about his work, we would like to hear from anyone who remembers Roland or worked at the factory at the same time.

“Asbestos-related diseases usually take decades for symptoms to develop and we often encounter issues such as Roland’s where it is difficult to remember the exact details of his exposure to asbestos.

“We know from our work that many factories at this time, including this one, contained asbestos, particularly around pipework, which would often be in poor condition or be disturbed when building work was carried out and would release harmful asbestos dust and fibres into the working atmosphere.

“Roland’s family are understandably devastated by his recent mesothelioma diagnosis and are seeking an insight into possible exposure to the material at work. Hopefully some of his former colleagues will be able to provide us with the information we need to help in the family’s research.”
Roger Maddocks, Partner

Norma, who has been married to Roland for 57 years, said: “We were completely shocked by Roland’s mesothelioma diagnosis. It was spotted by chance when he had a scan for something else.

“Due to his Alzheimer’s Roland has struggled to remember details about his work at Smart & Browns or Thorn EMI as it was later known, but we hope some of his former colleagues will remember him and come forward with the information we need to understand where and how he was exposed to asbestos.”

Anyone with information about the presence of asbestos at the Smart & Browns factory, which later became known as Thorn EMI, should contact Emma Crowther on 0191 279 0094 or email