Family And Lawyers Seeking Information On Teesside Ship Yards And ICI Plant
A former ship yard and ICI plant worker has spoken of his race against time to establish how he contracted asbestos-related lung cancer which looks set to shorten his life.
The 87-year-old, of Whinney Banks, Middlesbrough, has instructed expert asbestos-related disease lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate how he exposed to the hazardous material.
James Hayes has now joined his legal team in appealing to former workmates to come forward with information about the conditions he faced during his career.
They are particularly keen to hear from anyone who worked with James at Smith’s Docks Company and Furness Shipbuilding Company, both in Middlesbrough, as well as at ICI Wilton in Redcar.
Expert Opinion“James’s case is yet another reminder of the terrible legacy that asbestos has created across Teesside.
Understandably James and the rest of his family have been devastated by his diagnosis. While doctors sadly cannot do anything with regards to curing his cancer, we are determined to help support James and help provide him and his family with the answers they deserve regarding how he was exposed to asbestos.
Therefore we would be very grateful if those with information about the working conditions they and James faced could come forward with information.” Roger Maddocks - Partner
James has been married to Margaret, 76, for 55 years. The couple have 3 children, a daughter, Donna, and two sons Darren and Dwayne. James has 4 grandchildren aged between 13 and 22; two step grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.
After completing his National Service in the RAF, James joined Smith’s Docks Company, at South Bank, in 1956 as a painter.
Over the next two years he painted the interior and exterior of ships being built or which were in for repair. During this time James recalls working near laggers who would insulate pipes with asbestos as well as having to sweep up rubbish in preparation for painting.
Between 1958 and 1960 James carried out a similar role at Furness Shipping Company Ltd based in Haverton Hill.
James returned to Smith’s Docks in 1962 for several months before again returning to Furness Shipbuilding later in 1962 where he worked for several years.
In 1966 he joined ICI in Wilton as a plater’s mate which saw him working alongside craftsmen and tradesman. Part of the role involved stripping pipes of suspected asbestos lagging.
He worked at ICI until 1988 when he forced to retire, aged 55, after suffering a stroke.
James was diagnosed with lung cancer after a fall in April 2019 in which he injured his shoulder and broke some ribs. Scans carried out then confirmed that he had been occupationally exposed to asbestos dust and was suffering from lung cancer.
He said: “Nothing can prepare you for the news that you have cancer. It was a total shock when the doctors told me I had cancer and that it was terminal.
“The last few months and trying to come to terms with my diagnosis has been incredibly difficult.
“Nothing can make up for what has happened and I try not to think too much about what the future may bring.
“I have so many questions about how I could have been exposed to asbestos and I think I deserve answers, not just for me but for my family.
“It can’t change what has happened to me, but hopefully by having my old workmates come forward it will enable my family to understand why this happened and how before it’s too late.
The smallest piece of information may mean the world to us.”
Anyone with information about Smith’s Docks Company, Furness Shipbuilding Company and ICI Wilton should contact Megan Gascoigne at Irwin Mitchell on 0191 434 0708.
Find out more about Irwin Mitchell’s expertise in handling asbestos-related disease cases.