Concerns She May Have Contracted Cancer From Washing Late Husband’s Overalls
A grandmother is appealing to her late husband’s former work colleagues in North Yorkshire for help, following concerns that washing her late husband’s work clothes led to her contracting terminal asbestos cancer.
June Simpson, 80, has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, a terminal cancer of the lining of the lung linked with exposure to asbestos, often decades previously.
Following her diagnosis on 3 November 2021, June instructed legal experts at Irwin Mitchell to investigate how she could have been exposed to the hazardous material.
The investigation has raised concerns that her cancer may be linked to washing her late husband Colin’s overalls during his time with Ward Brothers (Sherburn) Ltd, between 1973 and 1980.
June has now joined with her legal team to appeal to any of her husband’s former colleagues to come forward, or anyone else who worked at the company during the 1970s who has any knowledge of asbestos being present at the company or its use of asbestos materials.
Expert Opinion“Sadly we deal with many cases of secondary asbestos exposure and cases like June’s are more common than most people realise.”
“This lack of awareness can lead to mesothelioma cases among women being under-reported and while June and her family are devastated by this diagnosis, June is keen to get to the truth of the matter.
“We are determined to help June find the answers she is looking for but as Colin sadly died just 2 months prior to June’s diagnosis; his former workmates could have a big role to play. Any information they hold, no matter how small, could be a big help in June’s investigation.
“June is amazingly brave and pragmatic about her condition, but recognises that telling her story could persuade other women to seek the help and support they are entitled to.” Emma Bell - Senior Associate Solicitor
June and Colin met in 1957 as teenagers, married in 1961 and marked their diamond wedding anniversary last year. The couple have two children, Karen Tite, 59 and James Beresford Simpson, 57.
June and Colin were always a close couple, but June has lived on her own since 2017, when she and Colin moved out of their Durham home to a flat in Newcastle to be closer to Karen and James. Colin had been very ill and moved into care prior to dying of Parkinson’s disease on 30 August 2021.
The only time June can remember Colin coming into contact with asbestos was when the couple moved to Scarborough in 1973 and Colin worked as a welder and shop steward with Ward Brothers in Sherburn, North Yorkshire, between 1973 and 1980.
The large steel company was located close to the Pigeon Pie Club and June recalls Colin was very hands on, and got involved in many tasks. When he came home from work, he was always covered head to foot in white dust, which would have to be shaken off. The dust would be everywhere and June would sweep it up, in addition to washing Colin’s dusty overalls.
Looking back, June believes the dust was asbestos and from prior conversations with Colin, she understood the work may have included constructing prefabricated buildings.
June and Colin made an adventurous team and lived a full life exploring new opportunities together. In January 1991, the couple moved to Portugal to work as independent market traders, buying and selling jewellery along the Algarve coast, before moving back to the UK in 1999.
Prior to her diagnosis, June remained very fit and active, with no real health problems and continued to enjoy walking, writing and painting. On turning 80, June noticed she had started to slow down, becoming breathless walking uphill but put this down to her age, until a biopsy and X-Ray led to a diagnosis of mesothelioma on 3 November.
Speaking about her appeal, June said: “Following the diagnosis, I asked the cancer nurse how long I had to live and she said 12 to 18 months. There was a debate about treatment but I am fit and intend to start shortly. I think the doctors wanted me to enjoy Christmas and get that out of the way and they said if I wanted to go on holiday, I should do so now.
“The diagnosis is obviously a shock to me and I’m angry at having developed this cancer through no fault of my own. However, I have got to the age of 80 and I look upon it on the basis that I lost my husband last year, I have had a good life and everybody has got to die of something.
“I certainly intend to fight my illness but I am quite practical about it. I am grateful I have done so much with my life. I have been in a good, loving marriage, in which Colin and I loved each other right up to the end. We spent years living in Portugal and have done allsorts together and I take none of that for granted.
“I do want to get to the truth of how this happened and if anyone out there can help me do that, it will close an important chapter in my life and provide me and my family with some answers, which I feel is the least I deserve under the circumstances.”
Anyone with information that could help June is asked to contact Sophie Miller on 0191 434 0728 or by email at Sophie.Miller@IrwinMitchell.com