Information Sought On Working Conditions At National Cash Register And John Menzies
The devastated widow of a former printing press employee and Menzies Deputy FOC who died from asbestos cancer is appealing to his former workmates to help establish how he contracted the disease.
Barry Francis, who grew up in north London and worked across London, died after being diagnosed with mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the lung associated with exposure to asbestos, often decades previously.
Following his diagnosis, Barry instructed expert asbestos-related disease lawyers to investigate his illness and whether his exposure could be connected to his work history. However, he died aged 71 before he could see his case concluded.
Ahead of this year’s Action Mesothelioma Day on 1 July, Barry’s widow, Eileen, 68, is continuing the investigation in his memory. Eileen has now joined the legal team at Irwin Mitchell to appeal to Barry’s old workmates and union colleagues to come forward with details of the conditions he would have worked under.
They are looking to trace anyone who worked with Barry during his time as a paper cutter and folder at the National Cash Register, in Marylebone Road, Marylebone, London, from 1970 to 1972. Barry also worked at John Menzies Distribution Centre in Drayton Park, Highbury, London, from 1987 to 1997 where he was a driver and an elected trade union official, the Deputy Imperial FOC, working across five depots.
Expert Opinion“Eileen and her family are understandably still in shock following Barry’s death which has left them struggling to come to terms with their loss.
Sadly we see many tragic cases resulting from exposure to asbestos and the disease in Barry’s case progressed so quickly, he was unable to give his family a full account of his work history before his death.
Nothing can make up for Barry’s death but if anyone has information that could help the family establish how he came into contact with asbestos, it would give them the answers they’re looking for and be of some comfort as they look to face the future without him.”
Natalia Rushworth-White - Associate Solicitor
Barry worked as a paper cutter and folder at the National Cash Register from 1970 to 1972. It is understood that the machinery used in the paper print at which Barry worked was lagged with asbestos insulation. Later, whilst working at John Menzies, Barry was advised that some of partition walls in the communal areas contained asbestos and campaigned for their removal.
Barry didn't have much time for hobbies during his working life, but family was most important to him. He was an active trade union member, and having left school aged 15 without qualifications he worked hard at part-time study to achieve an honours degree and MSc in Economics. Barry also loved to travel and was a natural explorer and with his family had many adventurous holidays. He also shared a passion for football with his son.
While a fit and healthy man for most of his life, Barry started to develop symptoms of back pain in May 2021. Following investigations, Barry was diagnosed with the asbestos cancer, mesothelioma, but his illness progressed quickly and he sadly died in August 2021. Barry is survived by his wife Eileen, son Barry Jr, 42, and his four grandchildren. The coroner found that Barry died as a result of mesothelioma.
Eileen said: “Barry was a wonderful father and grandfather who loved spending time with the family and it is so hard to accept he is gone. It doesn’t seem real and we all miss him every day. He worked hard all his life both in the print and later in workplace lifelong learning and we looked forward to spending more time together with the family during our retirement.
“The plans we had for our retirement and future lives together are now in ruins and it’s hard to think in terms of a future when Barry was such a big part of all our lives.
“Barry, in true trade union style, was adamant he was going to find out more about how he came into contact with asbestos and wasted no time in seeking help to do so. Sadly, neither he nor I appreciated the urgency or that this terrible disease could take him from us so quickly.
“He was able to give us an outline of his work history and his thoughts on where he may have come into contact with asbestos, but we need help to fill in the details. If anyone out there can help us shed any light on this, it would be much appreciated. Barry wanted to know the truth and I’m hoping I can get some of the answers in memory of the love of my life and a good man who did not deserve to have his life cut so short in this way.”
Anyone with information that could help Eileen is asked to contact Natalia Rushworth-White at Irwin Mitchell on 01223 791893 or email@example.com
Held every year, Action Mesothelioma Day brings together victims of the disease, those who have loved ones affected, healthcare professionals, support groups and those working to understand mesothelioma and find a cure. The day aims to ensure the public are also aware of the terrible impact mesothelioma can have on sufferers and their carers.
Find out more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in handling asbestos-related disease cases