Former Fireman Appeals For Ex-Colleagues To Come Forward With Details Following Mesothelioma Diagnosis
A former cleaner and fireman is appealing to his ex-workmates to help establish how he was exposed to the asbestos that has led to his terminal cancer diagnosis.
Colin Paul, from Orpington, Kent was diagnosed in with mesothelioma in June 2023. The disease is a cancer of the lining of the lung associated with exposure to asbestos, often decades previously.
Following his diagnosis, the father-of-two instructed specialist asbestos-related disease lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate his illness and if it could be linked to his work history. The 82-year-old has now joined with his legal team to appeal to his former workmates to come forward.
They are keen to trace anyone who remembers working with Colin during his 15 years at the Port of London Authority, Millwall Docks, from 1956 to 1971.
Michael Osborne, the specialist asbestos-related disease lawyer supporting Colin and his family, said: “Colin’s mesothelioma diagnosis came as a real shock and he and his family are now considering treatment options and what his condition means for the future.
“Through our work, we continue to see far too many people whose lives have been devastated as a result of asbestos exposure. They come from a range of sectors and backgrounds, including dockworkers like Colin.
“Colin is determined to find out all he can about his asbestos exposure and we’re doing all we can to help in his quest for answers. If anyone who does recall working with Colin could come forward, it would mean a lot to him and could really help in filling in the details.”
Colin went to work for the Port of London Authority in 1956 after leaving school. Based at Millwall Docks, during his 15 years, Colin was employed as a cleaner and a fireman.
In the early years of his employment, Colin was tasked with cleaning boilers on the steam trains, which were lagged in heat resistant paste which he believes may have contained asbestos. The trains vibrated when driven, which loosened the coating, which was often in poor condition.
Colin would be required to stand beneath the train boiler and to clean underneath it using a rag, which would result in dust falling all over him and into the area where he was working.
The rags were seldom replaced and Colin would shake them to remove the dust collected, which would release more dust into the air. This would be worse when the boilers were opened for servicing, as the lagging had to be removed and clouds of dust would be released.
Later in his career, Colin was promoted to fireman, where he was required to power the steam trains with the fuel they needed. Colin also worked in the locomotive sheds, on shunting work and cutting wood.
Throughout his time, Colin also recalled large quantities of asbestos arriving at the docks as cargo on a regular basis. This would be unloaded from the ships and delivered to the area where Colin worked, again generating a large amount of dust in the process.
Colin married wife Chris, 79, in 1966 and the couple have two daughters, Joanne Paul, 54; Lorraine Paul, 57 and two grandchildren.
In his spare time, Colin liked to play squash, but in addition to spending time with his family, Colin was also kept busy running the family business. After leaving the docks, Colin and Chrissy became well-known locally for running Ivy’s, a stand at Chrisp Street Market in Poplar, where they would sell pease pudding, faggots and saveloys.
The business has continued to be passed down in the family and was taken over by daughter Lorraine.
Colin started to develop chest and back pain in January 2023. Following a visit to his GP, Colin was sent for tests. He was diagnosed with mesothelioma in June, 2023.
Colin said: “My mesothelioma diagnosis came as a complete shock. I struggle to remember some of the names of the men I used to work with back at the docks. It’s a while ago, but I’m hoping some of them may still be around and will remember me.
“No one wants to be taken in a room by a doctor and told they have cancer. It was one of the worst days of my life. They started asking me a lot of questions about my work history and when they said mesothelioma was linked to asbestos, it started to think where I might have come into contact with it
“I’m trying to keep busy and active and I’m determined to do what I can to get through this and that includes finding out more about my asbestos exposure. If some of the guys are out there and could come forward it would be great to hear from them and piece together what happened.”
Anyone with information that might help Colin is asked to contact Michael Osborne at Irwin Mitchell on 0370 1500 100 or email Michael.Osborne@IrwinMitchell.com