The devastated daughter of a former Birmingham telephonist who died of an asbestos related disease has launched an emotional appeal to win justice for her mother by asking for her former colleagues to come forward with vital information.
Valerie Chadd, who lived in Acocks Green in Birmingham, was diagnosed with mesothelioma; a cancer caused by exposure to asbestos, in May 2009 and sadly died just four months later on the 10 September 2009, aged 72.
An inquest held by HM Coroner for Birmingham, Aidan Cotter, in May 2010 confirmed that she had died from an industrial disease.
With the help of specialist asbestos lawyers at Irwin Mitchell, Valerie’s daughter, Helen Chadd, is now seeking people who worked with her mother who may be able to provide information as to how she came into contact with the lethal fibres.
It is believed the cancer was caused by exposure to asbestos during Valerie’s employment with industrial insulation suppliers, Factory and Garage Furnishers Limited, where she worked between 1956 and 1958. The factory based in central Birmingham was Valerie’s first job after she left home in Shropshire to begin a new life.
Although Valerie’s main job was to manage the telephone calls, she also helped staff unload the lorries coming into the yard and one of the main products they supplied was asbestos boards, asbestos pipes and asbestos gutter work.
It is believed Valerie had contact with asbestos when carrying the supplies and regularly entered the room in the factory where asbestos was cut to pass messages on to members of staff.
Commenting on her mother’s death, Helen Chadd said: “My Mum and I were always very close so to lose her so suddenly was heart breaking.
“When we were told about her diagnosis we were both completely devastated. This terrible illness took her so very quickly and she suffered a great deal in the last months of her life.
“I can remember my mum telling me about carrying the asbestos pipes off the lorries to help the other staff and her hands and clothes would be covered in dust. The atmosphere in the cutting room was also thick with dust but despite this she was never provided with a mask or warned of the dangers of the asbestos dust.
“My mum worked hard all her life and to know that her work was ultimately responsible for her death is hard to bear. She had not thought about her work with asbestos for years, then all of a sudden, we were told that she had an asbestos related cancer for which there is no cure.
“I do hope that what happened to my Mum serves as a warning to other workers and, in particular employers; that health and safety regulations are there for a reason and should never be ignored.”
Iain Shoolbred, a workplace illness expert with Irwin Mitchell’s Birmingham office, is representing the family. He said: “In the 1950s, 60s and 70s employers knew of the risks associated with asbestos and the dangers of inhaling the lethal fibres and had a duty to protect the health of their workers.
“Mesothelioma is an asbestos related cancer for which there is sadly no cure. Although it can take many years from exposure for the illness to develop, once diagnosed it can be very aggressive and debilitating.
“In order to help her daughter in her fight for justice, I am particularly keen to hear from workers from Factory and Garage Furnishers Limited between 1956 and 1958 as they may have key information about the presence of asbestos and working practices at these premises.”
Anyone who can help with any information is asked to contact Iain Shoolbred at Irwin Mitchell on 0370 1500 100 or email firstname.lastname@example.org