Action For Mesothelioma Day Takes Place On 5 July
A retired welder from Middlesbrough diagnosed with asbestos-related cancer is marking this year’s Action for Mesothelioma Day by issuing an emotional appeal for help from his former colleagues.
Gary Peckover, 79, developed symptoms including shortness of breath and lethargy in September 2018 and following tests it was confirmed he had developed mesothelioma – a cancer of the lining of the lung invariably associated with asbestos exposure.
Following the news, he instructed asbestos-related disease experts at Irwin Mitchell to investigate his illness and determine how he came to develop it.
Now, as part of their work, the legal experts and Gary have come together to appeal for his former workmates from several jobs to come forward and provide information on how he may have been exposed to asbestos.
They are particularly keen to hear from anyone who trained with Gary during his time at Billingham Technical College between 1966 and 1967 or worked with him at:
- Smiths Dock South Bank yard in about 1955 to 1956 when he worked there as a “Tank Rat” in bottoms of ships under construction and later in 1966 to 1968 and 1972 to 1973 when he worked there as a welder
- Swan Hunters Ship Builders at the Haverton Hill Ship yard in about 1975
- William Press at the ICI Wilton site in 1975 and 1976
- Capper Pipe Services at the ICI Wilton site from 1976 to 1979
Expert Opinion“Gary’s story is sadly yet another reminder of the terrible impact that asbestos has had on so many lives, particularly on those who have spent decades working in industrial environments.
“While sadly the doctors cannot do anything for him we are determined to help Gary and his family get answers they deserve about how he was exposed to the asbestos that caused his illness.
“Therefore we are calling for anyone who worked with him at these employers to come forward and help us with our work.” Roger Maddocks - Partner
Gary has four grown up children who are in their 40s and 50s and seven grandchildren whose ages range from 14-26.
Shortly after leaving school Gary worked as a “Tank Rat” (labourer) at Smiths Docks, South Bank shipyard working in ships bottoms where he was exposed to asbestos dust from the activities of laggers working nearby and on the deck levels above
Gary trained to become an electric welder at Billingham Technical College. The booths used for practical work were made of asbestos cloth and blankets and ir is believed he was exposed to asbestos dust from these. Following his period there, he worked as a welder at Smiths Docks on a couple of occasions for short spells in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s
He explained: “I worked at the South Bank site for the company and would often be undertaking work on both the interior and exterior of ships. This meant that I was often close to laggers who would be applying asbestos to pipework on the vessels.
“I also had a short spell working at the Haverton Hill ship yard, which by then had been taken over by Swan Hunters Ship Builders, where I was similarly exposed to asbestos dust from the activities of laggers working nearby.
“Following that I moved to William Press Ltd for a short period in the mid 1970’s on the ICI Wilton Site and then on Capper Pipe Services where I also worked at ICI Wilton, installing pipework. During this period, I had to carry out my jobs in a “tent” made of iron piping and asbestos sheets, as the idea was to stop other workers from being affected by flashes or sparks caused by the welding.”
During his time at Cappa, Gary was exposed to asbestos dust from the asbestos sheets forming the “tent” he worked in.
Gary was an avid drummer and is well-known from playing at working men’s clubs across the North East and for playing with the “Lucky Strikes” in the late 1950’s.
Discussing his illness he added: “It has been very hard coming to terms with mesothelioma and it has affected me so much. It is particularly tough to think it may have been caused by my work, so I just feel I deserve some answers regarding how this happened.
“I would be hugely grateful to anyone who might have information which could ultimately get the answers and justice I feel I deserve.”
From the 1980’s Gary largely retired from working on the tools and worked as Club Steward in a number of clubs in the Teesside area.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Louisa Shaw at Irwin Mitchell’s Newcastle office on 0191 4340 737 or email email@example.com