Landmark Legal Victory Allowed Others To Seek Justice After Being Exposed To Hazardous Material Living In The Shadow Of Factory
A special commemoration is to be unveiled honouring one of Leeds’ pioneers in the fight for justice for those living with asbestos-related disease.
A Leeds Civic Trust blue plaque is to be unveiled in memory of June Hancock, one of countless Armley residents and workers who died from exposure to asbestos from the former JW Roberts Factory.
As a resident of Salisbury View, June was diagnosed with asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma in October 1993. She instructed specialist lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to pursue a legal challenge regarding her exposure. Her case, led by Adrian Budgen was the first to be brought by someone who had not worked with asbestos.
The legal team successfully argued the factory owner should be held responsible for the asbestos exposure of residents who lived close to the site, including children like June, who attended a neighbouring school.
June’s landmark victory in 1995 paved the way for others to follow in her footsteps in seeking justice. June died two years later aged 61 with the June Hancock Mesothelioma Research Fund (JHMRF) established in her memory in November 1997.
The charity has gone on to fund ground-breaking research projects, while supporting others living with mesothelioma. It continues to campaign ceaselessly to raise awareness of the disease.
Expert Opinion“Last year we marked 25 years of the JHMRF and all at Irwin Mitchell are honoured to be involved in marking June’s achievements for the people of Leeds and all those living with asbestos-related disease with a fitting reminder of her legacy.
“A blue plaque is a lasting tribute to June, all that she accomplished and her determination to help others living with asbestos-related disease, in spite of her own illness.
“Our challenge now is to see that we finish June’s work by finally consigning the terrible legacy of asbestos into history where it belongs.” Adrian Budgen, Partner
Kimberley Stubbs, aged 57, June’s daughter and a trustee of the JHMRF, said: “The whole family is so proud of mum and it’s going to be an emotional moment to see a plaque displayed in her honour.
“Since mum’s death, we have worked hard to live up to her example and to date, the fund has raised over £2.4 million to help support vital research into asbestos-related cancer. Mum would be amazed at how much we have been able to do for others with mesothelioma.
“On behalf of the family and all at the JHMRF, we’d like to thank all those who’ve helped to arrange this plaque in her memory. Now there’s a place in the city she loved close to June’s childhood home, where her contribution to the people of Leeds and to so many others in the UK living with asbestos-disease will never be forgotten.”
The unveiling of the plaque by Leeds Civic Trust is taking place at the Gable End of Salisbury View in Armley on Friday, 9 June at 11.00 am.
Tom Riordan, chief executive of Leeds City Council, Lord Mayor Bob Gettings and more than 30 other guests will hear short speeches from the chair of Leeds Civic Trust and shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves, MP, prior to the formal unveiling by June’s daughter, Kimberley Stubbs and June’s son, Russell Hancock.
A reception at the Leeds office of Irwin Mitchell at noon will hear about the work of JHMRF, the ongoing legacy of asbestos and why 25 years on from June’s death, more still needs to be done to tackle the issue.