Former Apprentice Joiner Died From Mesothelioma
The widow of a man from Morley who died from asbestos cancer is making a heartfelt plea to his former colleagues for information to help determine how he fell ill.
Kenneth Thompson was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a terminal cancer of the lining of the lungs most commonly associated with exposure to asbestos, often decades previously.
Following his diagnosis, he instructed specialist asbestos-related disease lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate his illness and where his exposure could have taken place.
After he died, Kenneth’s wife Maureen, 74, continued the investigation alongside the legal team. They are now appealing to Kenneth’s former colleagues for details on the conditions he would have faced during his working years.
In particular, information is being sought on the following companies – J W Binks funeral directors and builders in Morley and Tingley, Tucks of London laboratory furniture fitters, Dalesman Caravans in Osset, Smiths of Batley house builders, and Charles F Thackery surgical instrument manufacturers based in Beeston and Leeds.
Expert Opinion“Since Kenneth died, Maureen has found it incredibly difficult to come to terms with him no longer being here, and what makes it worse is the unanswered questions she still has surrounding his death.
Through our work we come across many families devastated by asbestos many years after initial exposure has occurred.
Sadly, Kenneth was unable to recall some of the details regarding his working environments and whether asbestos was present, and he died shortly after being diagnosed.
We would therefore be grateful if anyone who worked with him for any of these companies could come forward with any information that may help with our investigations.
Any detail, no matter how small, could prove vital.”
Nicola Handley - Senior Associate Solicitor
Kenneth worked for JW Binks on Ackroyd Street in Morley as an apprentice joiner from 1957 to 1964. He recalled using asbestos sheets while undertaking site work for the company. Prior to his death, he told his legal team that he would regularly handsaw the sheets and dust would be released into the air “like clouds of snow” and would have to dust it off his clothes.
He also worked in mills and foundries, and remembered seeing laggers mixing sacks of asbestos powder which was “a very dusty process.”
Kenneth said he worked with Jim Crabtree, Kenneth Charlesworth and Peter Coates at JW Binks.
In 1964, Kenneth went to work for Tucks of London for two years in Yorkshire, Bedfordshire and close to London.
He was required to cut, fit and fix items of laboratory furniture, and recalled that they were made of various materials including asbestos. When cutting and drilling the items, dust would be released.
At the end of the day, he would dry sweep the dust, which would rise into the air.
Between 1969 and the early 1970s, Kenneth was employed by Dalesman Caravans based on Healey Lane in Osset. He worked as a cabinet maker to make frames and furniture for the caravans.
Asbestos sheets were used in the manufacturing and, as the mill was open plan, Kenneth was exposed to the dust created during the process.
Kenneth then went to work for Smiths of Batley house builders for a few years, where he recalled cutting asbestos sheets on a daily basis, with “clouds of dust” being released. He said they worked in “very confined spaces” with “lots of dust given off.”
In around 1972, Kenneth was employed by Charles F Thackery, where he remained for 33 years until he retired in 2005 at the age of 61. He was responsible for repairing surgical instruments and remembered pipework was used to heat the factory.
During refurbishment, the building at the Beeston site was knocked down and Kenneth recalled being exposed to a lot of dust and debris at that time. More refurbishment works took place at the base on Kirkstall Road, during which asbestos removal works were undertaken.
Kenneth said he worked with a man named Tony Dewhurst, and the company became DePuy and later Johnson & Johnson.
Around May 2019, Kenneth developed a cough. He was referred for a chest x-ray, and a series of tests were carried out including a CT scan and biopsy. A diagnosis of mesothelioma was confirmed in January last year.
His condition deteriorated and Kenneth died.
At the time of his death, Kenneth and Maureen had been married for 53 years. The couple had two children, Nicholas and Christopher, and two grandchildren.
Maureen said: “When Kenneth died, I was absolutely devastated. He hadn’t been diagnosed for long and it was incredibly difficult to come to terms with what was happening.
“Towards the end of his life, he lost a lot of weight and was receiving care at home. He was having difficulty sleeping so would sometimes have an afternoon nap which helped a bit, but watching him deteriorate was very distressing, especially knowing there was nothing I could do.
“To then find out that his illness was likely to have been caused by his employment was a real blow, but I am determined to honour his memory and get the answers he was seeking before he died.
“If anyone remembers working alongside Kenneth and has information that may help, I would be very grateful if you would get in touch.”
Anyone with information that may assist with this case is asked to contact Nicola Handley at 0113 220 6233 or by e-mail at Nicola.firstname.lastname@example.org