Lawyers Secure Settlement For Tyneside Shipyard Worker Involved In ‘Asbestos Snowball Fights’ Following Mesothelioma Diagnosis
A grandad-of-eight living with asbestos cancer is getting ready to take part in his 42nd Great North Run.
Ron Snaith, from Ryton, Gateshead, was diagnosed with mesothelioma in December 2018 at the age of 64. A terminal cancer of the lining of the lungs, mesothelioma is most commonly associated with exposure to asbestos, often decades previously.
Lawyers secure Ron settlement which is helping to extend his life
Following his diagnosis, Ron instructed expert asbestos-related disease lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate his illness and help him access the specialist treatment he requires.
His legal team went on to secure Ron a settlement from a former employer in connection with his exposure. The funds are allowing Ron to receive private treatment and take part in a new clinical trial to extend his life.
Great North Ron prepares for Great North Run
Now aged 68, the dad-of-two known as Great North Ron, has been selected to participate in this year’s Great North Run for the 42nd consecutive year. He’s keen to raise awareness around the dangers of asbestos, while making his family proud. He’s also one of 80 people to have run every Great North Run since its inception.
Ron is also part of Irwin Mitchell’s new Imagine campaign. Over the coming year, the law firm will share client stories on those who’ve experienced a life-changing illness or injury, focusing on how they’ve worked through obstacles and challenges to help them start to imagine what’s possible.
Ian Toft, a specialist asbestos-related disease lawyer at Irwin Mitchell is supporting Ron by joining him in the Great North Run.
Expert Opinion“Understandably the past few years haven’t been easy for Ron as he came to terms with his diagnosis and what it means for him and his family. However, he’s shown such strength and courage as he attempts to continue living his life as he always has.
“As an avid runner, he really doesn’t want to give it up. To have completed more than 40 Great North Runs is an incredible achievement that he and his family should be immensely proud of.
“Sadly Ron’s case is typical of those we’ve been involved in where many of Tyneside’s shipyard workers have gone on to develop mesothelioma many years after their exposure occurred. It’s another reminder of the terrible legacy asbestos has created in the region.
“While nothing can change what Ron and his loved one’s have been through, we’re pleased to have been able to secure funding to help Ron access private treatment and ease the financial burdens of everyday life.
“Ron is a real inspiration to so many and is determined to help others affected by mesothelioma by raising awareness of the risks still posed by asbestos.
“It’s great to see him feature in our new Imagine campaign and it will be a privilege for me to run alongside him this weekend.” Ian Toft
Mesothelioma: Ron Snaith's story
During his employment in shipyards, Ron was mainly based in Tyneside but was also required to work at others shipyards, including in Yorkshire.
He said that asbestos was used throughout the yards, but neither he nor his colleagues were aware of the dangers of the substance and even used to have snowball fights using asbestos lagging.
Ron began to feel unwell during a holiday to Croatia in September 2018 with his partner, Denise Golden, 58, a mental health nurse. On his return home, Ron saw a GP. He underwent a blood test, chest X-ray and a subsequent CT scan which identified a shadow on his chest.
Following a biopsy, he was diagnosed with mesothelioma that December.
Since then, he has undergone various further tests and been part of a medical trial to look at whether chemotherapy alone or a combination of chemotherapy and surgery is best for patients with mesothelioma.
As a result, Ron subsequently underwent chemotherapy, surgery to remove the pleurectomy - the lining between the lungs and chest wall, and decortication which involves removal of tumours from the surface of the lung.
Prior to being diagnosed, Ron was working with his son Paul as a joiner and site foreman, carrying out work across the North East of England. He was forced to give this up in September 2018 due to his symptoms.
Ron determined to live life despite asbestos-related cancer
However, Ron isn’t letting his condition stop him from getting ready for this year’s Great North Run.
He said: “When I was given my diagnosis, it was a huge shock as I had always been healthy and loved to keep fit. I regularly walked, ran and cycled, and I even played football until I was 60.
“So to find out I had mesothelioma completely floored me, and then to be told that I had limited life left was absolutely devastating.
“My condition is slowly worsening and I suffer from pain and shortness of breath, but I’m still quite fit and healthy and determined to keep living my life to the full as best I can.”
He added: “Over the past few months, I’ve been training for the Great North Run. I’ve done it 41 times before and I won’t let anything stop me from getting to number 42. But I know it wouldn’t have been possible without the amazing support I’ve had from Denise, my family, friends, and also my legal team who have helped me get the treatment I need.
“Sadly nothing will change what I’m going through, so all I want to do now is help others by raising awareness around mesothelioma and how dangerous asbestos is. It’s awful to think that when I worked at the shipyards, my workmates and I would throw snowballs made of it. We were totally unaware of the risks back then.
“I have a saying – if you don’t use it, you lose it – and it’s really important for me to challenge myself and keep going as long as I can. I’m still here more than four-and-a-half years and I’m so grateful to everyone who has helped me get here.”
Ron raising money for Mesothelioma UK
The Great North Run is a half-marathon and takes place on Sunday, 10 September. Ron will be raising money for Mesothelioma UK.
Jill Lemon, senior fundraiser, legacy and challenges officer at national charity, Mesothelioma UK, added: "Ron is an amazing man who, alongside his awe-inspiring running achievements, also continues to raise awareness of the dangers of asbestos.
“At this year's Great North Run, there will be 36 people running for Mesothelioma UK including our CEO, Liz Darlison and me, plus other members of staff, so Ron will be in good company."
Find out more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in supporting people and families affected by asbestos at our dedicated asbestos-related disease section. Alternatively to speak to an expert contact us or call 0370 1500 100.
More information about Mesothelioma UK can be found on the charity's website.