Information Sought On Delivery Driver’s Former Employer
The family of a York man who died of asbestos-related cancer are marking this year’s Workers Memorial Day with an emotional appeal for answers regarding the illness which took his life.
Derek Middleton, of Haxby, died just days after his 83rd birthday. A subsequent inquest confirmed that he had died from mesothelioma – a cancer of the lining of the lung associated with asbestos exposure, often decades earlier.
Following his death, the father-of-six’s family instructed specialist asbestos-related disease lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate his death and determine how he went on to develop the illness.
As part of their ongoing investigations, the legal experts are now calling for anyone who worked with Derek at John Atkinson & Sons Ltd in Leeds between 1974 and 1995 to come forward and provide information on the working conditions he may have faced.
The appeal comes ahead of Workers’ Memorial Day, which is this year focusing on the theme of ‘dangerous substances – get them out of the workplace’ and putting a spotlight on materials like asbestos.
Expert Opinion"Workers’ Memorial Day is an important time to reflect on the dangers that the UK’s workforce have faced through the years and the terrible legacy of asbestos is well known to many people. As such it is very welcome to see this year’s commemorations focus on this issue.
“Derek’s family are understandably desperate for answers regarding his death and we are determined to do everything we can to help them.
“In order to move this case forward we need more information regarding potential asbestos exposure that Derek may have faced, so we would be hugely grateful to anyone who may be able to help us.” Lucy Andrews - Associate Solicitor
Derek was born in Morley and lived in the town for many years. After leaving Victoria Road School he joined The Army in 1952, marrying Elizabeth two years later.
Derek left the Forces in 1956. He and Elizabeth had one son and five daughters.
For a number of years Derek worked in mills before joining John Atkinson & Sons Ltd in Leeds. During his time with the company he was employed as a delivery driver and labourer.
His wife Elizabeth, 82, recalls: “Derek told me before he died how he used to load his lorry on a morning, take it to work sites and then help those who were there to unload the materials. At the end of the day he would then return to the main site with any waste.
“He mentioned on a couple of occasions how he would handle corrugated sheets for roofs and ceiling tiles, while he also used to clean the vehicle at the end of the week too.”
Derek’s health problems came to light in October 2016 when he visited hospital on a couple of occasions due to drastic weight loss. He also then started to develop issues like breathlessness and dizziness as his health deteriorated rapidly.
His son-in-law Martin Bell, 56, said: “It was absolutely awful to see how quickly mesothelioma affected Derek and the whole family misses him so much.
“We hold so many questions regarding the illness which ultimately took his life and would appreciate any help from his old workmates who might know more about the presence of asbestos during his work.
“Any detail no matter how small could make a major difference to our efforts.”
Workers’ Memorial Day is on Sunday, 28 April, and is a day to ‘remember the dead and to fight for the living’ by paying respects to those who have died as a result of their employment. The day campaigns to improve health and safety standards in the workplace, and increase protection in place for employees.
Anyone with information which could assist this case is asked to contact Lucy Andrews at Irwin Mitchell’s Leeds office on 0113 394 6782 or firstname.lastname@example.org.