Arthur Tiffin, a 53-year old piping engineer from North Walbottle, has won a six-figure sum in damages against his former employer Carillion (Singapore) Limited, who exposed him to asbestos dust and fibres back in the 1970s.
Arthur was diagnosed with the asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma in October 2005, when he initially thought he would have to sell his family home to pay for treatment, but instead he turned to Newcastle solicitors Irwin Mitchell to issue legal proceedings against his former employer.
The final six-figure settlement has now been agreed after Irwin Mitchell last year successfully secured a judgment in Mr Tiffin's favour, and a £40,000 interim payout for Arthur whilst he awaited a trial date for final assessment of his damages.
Arthur, who has been taking over 40 tablets a day to manage the pain, including opioids, but is in good spirits said: "I'm very happy with the amount I have been awarded and with all the help and support I've received from Irwin Mitchell.
"Before this happened I had a promising and prosperous career and all I want now is for my wife and family to get what I was going to earn and to be cared for."
Cora, Arthurs wife, added: "It doesn't justify what has happened but it is a load off our minds. We would give every penny back if it could make him better."
When Arthur was 17 he started a four-year apprenticeship at Brightside Heating and Ventilation Engineering in Jesmond, Newcastle, now named Carillion (Singapore) Limited.
During this time Arthur was put on a job at Catterick Army Camp working in an old boiler house for a month. Arthur remembered: "I had to strip the boiler of its asbestos insulation. The room was so dusty that it was difficult to breathe. I was constantly coughing and had to remove the asbestos from my nose.
"I was not warned of the dangers of asbestos and had no idea that the dust I was inhaling could have such serious consequences for my future. I am certain this was when I was exposed to asbestos."
Serious illness has failed to weaken Arthur's resolve and since his diagnosis he has attended a lobby of Parliament and tirelessly campaigned on behalf of other mesothelioma sufferers for access to potentially life-saving drugs. Arthur has supported the appeal against the NICE (National Institute for Clinical Excellence) decision to prevent the breakthrough chemotherapy drug Alimta being provided to sufferers of mesothelioma on the NHS on grounds of cost.
Arthur is now to commence a Phase 1 trial of a new chemotherapy drug and he is the first person in the UK to receive this.
Arthur has also been a keen fundraiser for the Wallsend-based Mick Knighton Mesothelioma Research Fund.
His solicitor, Neil Wilkinson from Irwin Mitchell, has said "Arthur's case is important as it demonstrates to mesothelioma sufferers that it is often possible to trace companies and successfully pursue legal actions against them, even if they were exposed to asbestos dust several decades ago and their employers have changed their names or have dissolved."
Mr Wilkinson also paid tribute to Arthur: "His diagnosis of mesothelioma at the age of only 52 was devastating for him and his family, but his incredible courage in battling his illness and his determination to raise public awareness of mesothelioma and its treatment has been a real inspirational to us all."