Father-Of-Four Instructs Asbestos-Related Disease Lawyers Following ‘Shock’ Mesothelioma Diagnosis
A former floor layer and police constable is appealing to his old colleagues for help following his diagnosis with asbestos-related cancer.
James Richard Walker, known as Richard, from Burley in Wharfedale was diagnosed with mesothelioma on in February. A cancer of the lining of the lung, mesothelioma is linked with exposure to asbestos, often decades previously.
Following his diagnosis, the 65-year-old instructed specialist asbestos-related disease lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate his illness and whether he was exposed to asbestos in his working life.
Richard, who is married to Pauline, has now joined with his legal team in appealing for information from his former colleagues in respect of the conditions he would have worked under.
They are keen to trace anyone who worked with Richard during his time with Ralph Lawson in Wharfedale from 1973-1975 and at the P. Garnett & Sons paper mill in 1975. Richard also worked as a West Yorkshire Police constable in Otley and Horsforth, from 1975 until 1978. He is also asking for any former police colleagues to come forward who may know anything about how exposure to asbestos may have arisen.
Expert Opinion“Richard has always led a fit and active life so his mesothelioma diagnosis came as a shock to him and his family.
“Sadly Richard’s case is another reminder of the terrible legacy asbestos has left behind. Understandably, Richard has been struggling with the physical and emotional fallout of the news but together with Pauline, he is determined to get to the bottom of how he was exposed to asbestos.
“We’re supporting Richard as he explores treatment options and he begins his search for answers. If anyone could come forward with their recollections of the working conditions Richard faced, it would mean a lot to the family.
“Any details in connection with Richard’s past work history could prove vital in helping him and his family find the answers they deserve.” Nicola Handley, Senior Associate Solicitor
In 1973, Richard went to work for sole trader Ralph Lawson as an apprentice floor layer in Burley. The role involved floor tiling in offices, warehouses, and private houses. Richard would also lay carpets, lino and industrial tiles in various premises. The work included cutting and edging Marley tiles, which was dusty work and Richard believed the tiles may have contained asbestos.
Richard moved to work for P. Garnett & Sons Limited in 1974 and spent six months at Wharfdale Mills in Otley. Richard worked as a labourer for the paper manufacturing company and remembered the pipework throughout the mill was lagged, possibly with asbestos. Richard said the mill was a very dusty place to work and he would sweep up around the building.
Following a change of career in 1975, Richard went to work for the police. Employed as a constable, Richard was based with the Otley and Horsforth division, although he worked mainly out of Otley police station in Bridge street.
For the next three years, Richard worked in Otley police station and remembers entering the building through a large garage that was situated at the front of the station. The garage housed the road traffic department and he can recall pipework in this area.
Born and bred in Burley, Richard is married to Pauline Jeffery-Walker, 64, and the couple have four children and 15 grandchildren, with one great-grandchild due in May.
Richard retired in 2006 and went to live in Spain, although he continued to work in the UK as a part-time carer and still sees his children and grandchildren regularly.
Richard was a keen runner in his spare time until a heart attack in 2006 made him cut down but he didn’t require an operation or any other intervention and remained in good health until September 2022 when he began to develop some under arm pain.
He didn’t feel well and was referred for an X-ray. Six litres of fluid was drained from his lungs. On returning to hospital for a biopsy, Richard was given the devastating diagnosis of mesothelioma in February 2023.
Richard now has problems swallowing due to a tumour pushing on a gland next to his oesophagus. He struggles with breathlessness and pain when he exerts himself. He also lost a lot of weight but is now stable and looking to his future options.
Richard said: “That day I received the diagnosis is one I’ll never forget. I’d not felt well but cancer is the last thing you think about. It was a complete shock and even now, it still doesn’t feel real.
“When the doctors asked about contact with asbestos, I realised I could have worked in close proximity to it on a number of occasions, but I never imagined it would lead to me developing cancer.
“It’s been a lot to take in and with immunotherapy treatment starting recently, it’s meant a change in lifestyle, which has been hard to accept and mentally tough to take. The family and I have all had to cope with the news in our own way and I couldn’t have got through the last few months without them.
“I’m keen to remain positive and keep busy and with that in mind, I want to focus on staying healthy and discovering more about my asbestos exposure. If any of my old colleagues could get in touch with their recollections, it would mean a lot and help get to the truth of what has happened to me.”
Anyone with details that could help Richard s asked to contact Nicola Handley at Irwin Mitchell on 0113 220 6233 or by e-mail at Nicola.email@example.com