Man Died Just Days After Being Diagnosed With Mesothelioma
A widow is appealing for help in establishing whether her husband’s work at Chatham Dockyard caused his death from asbestos-related cancer.
Roland Potter had suffered with shortness of breath, which had progressively worsened. He died aged 93 in October 2020 shortly after being admitted into hospital suffering from his severe breathing problems and suspected pneumonia.
At the time of his death, he was undergoing investigations to confirm a diagnosis of mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the lung associated with asbestos exposure.
An inquest into Roland’s death concluded he died as a result of industrial disease and that exposure to asbestos dust at work was likely to have led to him developing mesothelioma.
Following his death, Roland’s wife Marion, 79, instructed specialist asbestos-related disease lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to establish where Roland was exposed to the hazardous material.
She is joining with her legal team at Irwin Mitchell in appealing for people who worked at Chatham Dockyard to come forward with information on the conditions that Roland would have faced at the Kent docks. Roland was employed the Ministry of Defence and worked at the site from the early 1940s to 1973.
The appeal is being made to mark Workers’ Memorial Day. The annual event on 28 April remembers those who have died as a result of their employment, and campaigns to improve health and safety standards in the workplace and increase protection for employees.
Expert Opinion“We’ve seen the devastating impact that asbestos has had on people employed across many sectors, including dock workers, through the years. Roland’s story is sadly yet another example of the devastating legacy asbestos has created.
“Marion and the rest of the family remain greatly affected by Roland’s death and in particularly the speed at which his condition deteriorated.
“While nothing can make up for their pain we’re determined to provide them with the answers they deserve so they can at least have some form of closure. Therefore we’d be grateful to anyone who came forward with information about conditions Roland faced during his time at the Dockyard.
“Workers’ Memorial Day is a timely reminder of the importance and needs for all employers to ensure that health and safety standards are upheld at all times.” Natalia Rushworth-White - Associate Solicitor
Roland undertook a shipwright apprenticeship at Chatham Dockyard when he left school in the early 1940s and he continued to work there until 1973. At this time, ships contained asbestos for insulation purposes. While he was based in an office during his final years at the site, it is understood that he still went onto ships to supervise works.
In 1973, Roland was transferred from Chatham Dockyard to Greenock in Scotland where he continued to work for the Ministry of Defence until 1979. He then worked self-employed before he retired around 1980. He and Marion lived in Scotland until they moved to Spalding, Lincolnshire, in 2005 for a change of scenery and to be closer to their family.
Roland died in October 2020.
Marion said: “Losing Roland has been incredibly difficult for the family. His condition deteriorated very quickly and it was awful to see how mesothelioma affected him.
“Roland was a wonderful husband who adored his family. He was upset at his diagnosis and believed he was exposed to asbestos at work. However, because of how quickly things developed following his diagnosis he didn’t get the chance to find out the answers he wanted.
“We just feel that we now owe it to Roland to at least establish the answers he wanted and deserved. We’d be incredibly grateful if any of his old colleagues or others who worked at the Dockyard might be able to come forward with information.
“It could make all the difference to our family.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact Natalia Rushworth-White at Irwin Mitchell 0370 1500 100 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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