More Than £1700 Recovered Following Suffolk Man’s Mesothelioma Death
An Ipswich hospice has received a funding boost of more than £1700 after lawyers recovered the care costs for a man looked after by the charity prior to his death from asbestos cancer.
Percy Bird, from Woodbridge, Suffolk, was diagnosed with mesothelioma in July 2020. The condition is described as a cancer of the lining of the lungs most commonly associated with exposure to asbestos, often decades previously.
He died less than two months later in September 2020, aged 85.
Prior to his death, he instructed asbestos-related disease lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate where he could have come into contact with the hazardous substance. After he died, his family continued the investigation.
The legal experts have now secured a settlement sum for Percy’s loved ones after British Sugar admitted that his exposure was likely to have occurred during his time working at its base in Ipswich. Due to a previous landmark court judgment secured by Irwin Mitchell, they were also able to recover the costs of Percy’s care provided by St Elizabeth Hospice.
Percy’s family and legal team have now joined to say thanks to the staff who cared for him in his final days. It comes after Percy’s daughter Julie Bridges, 60, presented the hospice with a cheque for £1705.40 on 7 December 2022.
Expert Opinion“Hospices up and down the country do amazing work providing patients with end of life care and supporting their loved ones at the same time.
We’re therefore pleased to have helped secure a settlement for Percy’s family while also being able to recover the costs that St Elizabeth Hospice incurred while caring for him in his last days.
While nothing will ever make up for the family’s devastating loss, they’re grateful that they can help the hospice continue to carry out it’s vital work in helping other families going through what they have.
Meanwhile, their story is a stark reminder that asbestos is still a very real danger in the workplace. It is of the utmost importance that employers keep their workers safe.”
Rosemary Giles, Partner and Asbestos-Related Disease Lawyer
Percy worked for the British Sugar refinery in Ipswich for 10 years from 1980 to 1990.
Prior to his death, Percy told his legal team that there were steam pipes used in the process of refining sugar. He was part of the maintenance team and worked on new lines or repairs to existing pipework. He recalled that he had to remove asbestos lagging from pipework in order to gain access. He would then sweep up the asbestos dust and put it in the bin.
On 16 July 2020, Percy began to suffer chest pains. He was taken by ambulance to hospital where he was admitted for tests.
He was diagnosed with mesothelioma on 31 July 2020. He received care from St Elizabeth Hospice but died at home on 8 September 2020.
At the time of his death, Percy had been married to wife Patricia, 87, for 62 years. He was dad to Julie, David 63, Valerie 59 of Ipswich and Teresa 56 of Diss, as well as grandfather to 10 grandchildren and 24 great grandchildren.
Patricia said: “When Percy was diagnosed with mesothelioma, it was an awful shock for all of us and we struggled to comprehend what was happening.
“As his illness progressed, he struggled to eat and lost his appetite so he became very frail. Our children helped me round the house more and more as Percy deteriorated so quickly. It was horrible to see him go downhill and know there was nothing we could do.
“When we were told he had up to two weeks left, it was devastating as he thought he had another two to three years to live. He had even been planning who to do with his time, which was to get a motorhome for us and tour the UK. Sadly, that never happened.
“We started getting help from the hospice and we made sure someone was with him the whole time. We were glad that he was able to remain at home until the end, as that was what he wanted.
“When Percy died, I hadn’t even got my head round his diagnosis so to then have to deal with losing him was incredibly difficult.
“The support provided by St Elizabeth Hospice was invaluable to us and I’m grateful that we can give something back to the staff there. It will help future families in the same way that we have been helped.
“We’re also thankful that the case has now settled so we can honour Percy’s memory; it’s the least he deserved.”
Hannah Bloom, Director of Income Generation at St Elizabeth Hospice, said: “Thank you to Patricia and her family for this generous donation to the hospice in Percy’s memory. Every penny we receive makes a difference to the care we provide to patients and their families throughout East Suffolk, Great Yarmouth and Waveney.
“Through the support of the local community, and people like Patricia and her family, we are able to continue to develop our services to care for more patients and their families during very difficult times in their lives, when support matters most.”