Appeal For Information On Working Conditions Mum Faced At Rotherhithe Factory
The son of a former packer from London who died from asbestos-related cancer is calling on his mum’s former workmates for help in establishing how she came into contact with the substance.
Brenda Sanders, 69, from Rotherhithe, died in September 2020, after being diagnosed with mesothelioma, a lung cancer associated with asbestos exposure, often decades previously.
Following her diagnosis, Brenda instructed specialist asbestos-related disease lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate her illness and if it was linked to her work history. However, she died before she could see her case concluded.
Her son Grant Sanders, 40, is continuing the investigation in his mum’s memory. He has joined his legal team in marking this year’s Workers’ Memorial Day by appealing for information from his mum’s former colleagues on the conditions Brenda would have faced during her working life.
Grant is keen to trace anyone who worked with his mum at Kirby’s Refineries Ltd, at Clack Street in the Bermondsey and Rotherhithe area of London. Brenda worked at the lard refinery for three years, from 1974. The factory burned down in the mid-1980s.
Expert Opinion“Brenda’s family remain devastated by her death and are still struggling to come to terms with the circumstances of how she could have come into contact with asbestos.
“Brenda contacted us, determined to establish the truth surrounding her exposure to asbestos, but passed away before she could see the investigation concluded, leaving her son Grant to continue her quest for answers in his mum’s memory.
“Nothing can bring Brenda back but if anyone who worked alongside her at the factory could come forward, it would mean a lot to the family. Any knowledge could prove invaluable as we try to establish the facts behind how Brenda developed mesothelioma and provide the family with the answers and closure they deserve.” Satpal Singh - Senior Associate
Born in Lambeth, and having lived her whole life in Rotherhithe, Brenda was the eldest of six children. She left school aged 15 in 1965 and married husband Graham in 1971. Her son Grant was born in 1981. Her husband died from cancer aged 53.
Brenda worked as a packer in warehouses and factories for most of her career. She began work at Kirby’s lard refinery in the mid 1970s and worked there for three years.
Prior to her death, Brenda recalled how using a packing machine was dusty work. There were many pipes in the factory covered in white insulation, which she believed was asbestos.
Brenda explained that the pipes ran throughout the factory, from the bathrooms, tea room, above the factory floor, near the front entrance and above her own workstation. Pipes above her would be hit several times a day, releasing dust in a fine mist which floated down on her as she worked, Brenda told her legal team.
Brenda noticed chest pain and breathlessness in early 2019 and sought medical advice. Following a biopsy, Brenda was given the devastating news that she had mesothelioma on in June 2019.
His mum had been fit and independent but following her diagnosis, Grant had to step in, doing a 90 mile round trip from his home in Kent several times a week to help with cooking, cleaning, shopping and hospital appointments.
Brenda started chemotherapy in July, 2019, undergoing six cycles of treatment, with multiple side effects, but her condition deteriorated. Following her battle with the disease, she died on 14 September, 2020.
Speaking about his mum, Grant said: “Mum was simply an amazing person and was loved so much by all who knew her.
“She was a real Rotherhithe girl and while she enjoyed life, she worked hard and simply did not deserve to die in the way she did from this terrible condition.
“Mum was determined to find out how this happened, but even the opportunity to get the truth was denied to her at the end, which makes me all the more committed to finish what she started. Mum wasn’t a quitter and I know she would want us to see her story through to the end.
“She worked at the factory with several of her aunts, who are sadly no longer alive, so it would be a huge help if anyone who remembers mum or working at the factory could come forward.
“I know it would have meant a lot to mum and any details people remember could make all the difference.”
Anyone who has information on the factory that could help Grant is asked to contact Jack Konda at Irwin Mitchell on 07894496545 or email Jack.Konda@IrwinMitchell.com
Workers’ Memorial Day is on 28 April. The day remembers those who have lost their lives through work and campaigns to improve workplace health and safety.