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Leigh Man In Search Of Workmates Following Asbestos Cancer Diagnosis

Appeal For People To Come Forward


An elderly Leigh man who has been diagnosed with an asbestos related cancer is urging his former workmates to come forward with information to help him in his battle for justice.

Father of three Benjamin Derbyshire, 90, was diagnosed with mesothelioma - a type of cancer caused by asbestos dust - earlier this year.  Benjamin believes he came into contact with the deadly dust whilst working at Bickershaw Colliery in Wigan during the 1950s for the National Coal Board.

Of his time spent at the colliery, where he worked until he retired in 1991 at the age of 64, Benjamin recalls: “During the 1950s I used to work at Bickershaw colliery as a labourer to the bricklayers in the boilerhouse. I was in my 30s back then. I worked next to men who were removing and applying asbestos lagging to the steam pipes and the boilers in the boilerhouse.

“I used to work with a bricklayer called Peter Atherton. Over the years I’ve lost touch with the men I worked with. I don’t like to think they could be suffering like me and my family are now.”

Mr Derbyshire started to suffer with symptoms last year. His GP referred him for an x-ray and subsequent tests that revealed that he was suffering from mesothelioma.  Before his illness he was a keen golfer and member of Pennington Golf Club.
Mr Derbyshire continues: “My wife, Agnes and I have been married for 63 years, and we have three children.  We are all finding it very difficult to come to terms with the fact that I am ill because of something that happened to me so long ago.

“You just don’t expect your working life to come back to haunt you like this and if anyone can help us to learn more about asbestos at Bickershaw colliery in the 50s, I hope they get in touch to help me and my family get some answers.”

Geraldine Coombs, a solicitor who specialises in asbestos claims at Irwin Mitchell solicitors in Manchester, is representing Mr Derbyshire.  She is appealing for people who worked with him to get in touch with her.

She said: “Through no fault of his own Mr Derbyshire was exposed to asbestos at work. His diagnosis of cancer has come as an immense blow to him and his family. The type of cancer Mr Derbyshire has is caused by asbestos exposure.

“As the delay between exposure to asbestos fibres and the onset of symptoms of mesothelioma can be 10 years or more there are many other workers like Mr Derbyshire, who worked with asbestos decades ago, who are only now receiving the distressing news that their health has been affected as a result.

“I would like to hear from anyone who worked at Bickershaw Colliery, particularly in the 1950’s, who remembers asbestos being used there - especially in the boilerhouse - so I can help Mr Derbyshire and his family get the answers they so desperately need and deserve.”

Anyone with information should contact Geraldine Coombs at Irwin Mitchell on 0161 838 3059 or email geraldine.coombs@irwinmitchell.com

* Over two thousand people are diagnosed with mesothelioma every year and it is a disease that affects women as well as men. Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that is almost always caused by asbestos exposure. It does not respond well to treatment, and treatment options are limited. There is no safe type of asbestos, and no safe level of asbestos exposure.