Call For Former Workmates To Come Forward
The family of a grandfather-of-two who died just weeks after he was diagnosed with asbestos-related cancer has issued an emotional appeal for answers regarding the illness which took his life.
Derek Cooke died aged 71, just two months after he was diagnosed with mesothelioma – a cancer which affects the lining of the lung and is commonly linked to exposure to asbestos materials.
Before he died, Derek, of South Kirkby, Pontefract, instructed specialist asbestos-related disease lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate how he developed the illness and whether it may have been caused by his working life.
His family, including wife Rita, are now determined to honour his memory by continuing the search for answers in his memory and have joined with the legal experts to appeal for information regarding the conditions Derek would have faced while working for the tractor manufacturer International Harvester Co of Great Britain in Doncaster, from 1963 to 1982.
Hannah Robinson, the legal expert at Irwin Mitchell representing Derek’s family, said: “Through our work, we have seen how asbestos and the terrible illnesses that it causes have had a huge effect on so many people. Derek’s case is yet another reminder of this.
“In its heyday International Harvesters was one of Doncaster’s largest employers and employed hundreds of people. Derek’s family remain desperate for answers with regards to how he developed the illness that claimed his life. Therefore we would be grateful to anyone who may be able to help Rita and the rest of her family get some kind of closure regarding Derek’s death.”
Derek was married to Rita for 48 years. They had a daughter, Gail, 45, a son Carl, 47, and two grandchildren.
Derek worked as a setter for the International Harvester Co at the company’s Wheatley Hall site in Doncaster. The role meant he would set up and repair machines including lathes and drilling equipment.
Prior to his death in May 2017, he told Irwin Mitchell how the work would often take him into areas where pipework was lagged. He added that the site in general was a very dusty environment and workers’ overalls and skin would be covered by the end of a day.
Rita said: “Derek was the most loving and caring husband and dad who was adored by all his family.
“Almost three years on from his death it is still so hard to accept he is no longer with us. What makes it even harder is how quickly he was taken from us. We had not yet come to terms with his diagnosis when he died.
“Our family feel we never got to say goodbye to him properly and it was terrible to see how the cancer took hold.
“We know nothing can bring him back but we would at least like to honour his memory by finding out where was he exposed to the asbestos that caused his death.
“We would also be very thankful to anyone who might have information regarding International Harvester, as this could make a huge difference to our search for answers.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact Hannah Robinson at Irwin Mitchell’s Leeds office on 0113 394 6842 or email Hannah.firstname.lastname@example.org.