West End Theatre Worker Recalled ‘Clumps’ Of Asbestos In Orchestra Pit
A television producer left devastated after her theatre producer and former stage carpenter dad died from asbestos cancer is calling on his former colleagues at Wyndham’s Theatre for help regarding his death.
John Wallbank died in February 2018 aged 79, just one month after he was diagnosed with mesothelioma. A terminal cancer of the lining of the lung, mesothelioma is most commonly associated with asbestos exposure, often decades previously.
Prior to his death, John, of Leytonstone, London, instructed asbestos-related disease experts at Irwin Mitchell to investigate how he developed the illness.
His daughter Jane, 57, and her sister Anna, 55, are now continuing the search for answers in memory of their dad.
Jane, formerly series producer on the BBC show Holby City, has now joined her legal team in seeking information from anyone that may have worked with John at Wyndham’s Theatre on Charing Cross Road in London’s West End, which was run by Associated Capital Theatres Ltd at the time and is now operated by Delfont Mackintosh Theatres Limited. In particular, they require details on the company’s insurers during the mid to late 1960s when John worked there. At that time, John’s employer was called Wyndham Theatres Ltd.
Expert Opinion“John’s death continues to have a profound effect on Jane and Anna who were devastated to lose their dad so tragically. It is also yet another reminder of the terrible legacy left behind by asbestos.
After John was diagnosed, he deteriorated very quickly and understandably Jane and Anna have many unanswered questions regarding his death.
This sad case highlights the problem which we sometimes come across when dealing with historic cases, when it isn’t possible to identify the relevant insurers. The Employer’s Liability Tracing Office helps identify historical insurers, but the records are incomplete.
We would therefore be grateful if any of John’s former workmates, or anyone who has any knowledge about the insurers for the theatre during the 1960s, could come forward with any information that might help us find out who provided insurance cover for the theatre company at the time.
Any detail, no matter how small, could prove vital to the investigation and provide Jane and her sister with the closure they deserve.”
Emma Guy - Chartered Legal Executive
During the course of his employment at Wyndham’s Theatre, John and two colleagues worked on cleaning out a disused orchestra pit. Before he died, he recalled the debris in the pit comprised structural steelwork which was lagged with asbestos. He said “clumps” of it broke away and accumulated in the pit before stirring up in the air. The workers would then sweep the area, again releasing dust and fibres into the air.
John began to suffer from breathlessness in November 2017. The following month, he underwent a biopsy and had fluid drained from his lungs. He was diagnosed with mesothelioma in January 2018 and died one month later.
Jane, who also worked on television programmes Mount Pleasant, Man Down and Traces, said: “When we were told about dad’s mesothelioma diagnosis, it hit us very hard. To then have to watch him go downhill so rapidly was devastating.
“He died just a few weeks later and we’ve struggled a lot to come to terms with him no longer being here. He was the most loving dad and would have done anything for us.
“While there is nothing we can do to change what happened, we are determined to get the answers he sought and honour his memory as sadly he didn’t get the chance to do this before he died.
“We would therefore be so grateful to anyone that could offer up any information that could help.”
Anyone that can assist with this case is asked to contact Emma Guy on 0207 421 3913 or firstname.lastname@example.org