Widow And Lawyers Investigate After Dad Died Of Mesothelioma Less Than Two Month After Diagnosis
The family of a former gas fitter are appealing to his former workmates for help in establishing how he came into contact with the asbestos that claimed his life.
Michael Speak from Gomersal, Kirklees, was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the lung associated with exposure to asbestos, often decades previously. He died within 9 weeks of the diagnosis.
Following Michael’s death aged 72, his widow Pauline Speak, 74 instructed specialist asbestos-related disease lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate her husband’s illness and if it was linked to his work history.
Pauline and her children, Nicola Speak, 52, and Nigel Speak, 54, have joined with the legal team to appeal for any of Michael’s old workmates to come forward with details of the working conditions he would have faced.
They are looking to trace anyone who remembers Michael from his time as a gas fitter for the Gas Board in the Spen Valley area, from 1965 to 1970 and during his employment at the British Belting and Asbestos factory in Cleckheaton, from 1970 until 1972. Michael was also employed with the National Coal Board as a coal miner from 1979 to 1988.
Expert Opinion“Michael’s family are still struggling to come to terms with his death from mesothelioma. The initial shock of his diagnosis has seen grief lead to questions on how he could have been exposed to asbestos.
“Sadly, asbestos was used across many industries at one time and through our work, we support many families whose lives have been devastated as a consequence.
“Nothing can bring Michael back or ease what the family have been going through. However, understandably they have unanswered questions about how he was exposed to asbestos and we’re determined to help in their search for the answers.
“If anyone who worked with Michael could come forward with their recollections, it would mean a lot to Pauline and the family. Any details could help provide the family with some closure and the answers they deserve. It is important to remind people of the dangers still posed by asbestos, which continues to kill more than 5,000 people a year through illnesses such as mesothelioma and other diseases.” Hannah Robinson, Asbestos-Related Disease lawyer
A resident of Gomersal, Michael was employed by the Gas Board as a gas fitter and worked throughout the Spen Valley area for five years, from 1965 to 1970. Pauline believes much of his work was in residential properties and Michael felt he may have encountered asbestos on several occasions.
In 1970, Michael moved to work for the British Belting and Asbestos (BBA) factory in Cleckheaton. Employed on the factory line Michael’s role involved the fitting of brake pads which may have contained asbestos into brake blocks. Before his death Michael told his family it was dusty work and people would often breath in dust in the factory.
He was then employed with the National Coal Board as a coal miner from 1979 to 1988.
Michael and Pauline married in January 1969 and had a son and a daughter, Nicola Speak and Nigel Speak. Their two grandchildren are aged 19 and 22.
A fit and active man, Michael was keen on sports and enjoyed playing squash in his spare time. At home, he was a committed family man who loved to spend time with his grandchildren. He was also keen on DIY and did a lot of his own work on home improvements.
Michael began to experience symptoms of breathlessness. On consulting his GP, Michael was sent for tests and was diagnosed with mesothelioma in April 2020. Michael died within 9 weeks of diagnosis on 30 June 2020.
Pauline said: “When Michael first began to feel unwell, we didn’t think too much of it, as he had always been so fit, but as he lost weight we became really concerned.
“The mesothelioma diagnosis was such a shock. It was the last thing we expected to hear and in less than two months, he was gone.
“Even now, it’s so hard to accept that we’ll never see him again. The speed of it took us all by surprise and there just wasn’t enough time to do all that we wanted to do. We all miss him so much and there’s not a day goes by that I don’t think of him.
“Michael told me some things about his work history and wanted to find out more about how he was exposed to asbestos, but in those last few weeks together his health was our priority.
“It now feels like the right time to find out how he was exposed to asbestos. If any of his old workmates could help us, I’d really appreciate it and with the truth, we can honour his memory and let him rest in peace.”
Anyone with information that could help Pauline, is asked to contact Hannah Robinson at Irwin Mitchell on 0113 394 6842 or email Hannah.Robinson@IrwinMitchell.com