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Grandmother Joins Forces With Industrial Disease Lawyers In Battle For Justice

Former Factory Worker Diagnosed With Asbestos-Related Cancer Appeals For Ex-Colleagues To Help Investigation


By Suzanne Rutter

A former factory worker battling the debilitating asbestos-related illness mesothelioma has joined forces with specialist industrial disease lawyers to appeal for her former colleagues to come forward with information about her exposure to asbestos.

Margaret Porter, from Birstall in Batley, has been battling mesothelioma since October 2012 which she believes was caused by exposure to asbestos whilst working at Thomas Burnley and Sons, Round Hill Mill in Gomersal and Richardson Limited in Batley.

The 68-year-old went to work for Thomas Burnley and Sons aged 15/16 and was employed as a ‘doffer’ who was responsible for replacing the full bobbins on the spinning machines with empty ones. She continued to work for the firm until 1965/66.

She then worked at Round Hill Mill for about a year where she was also a ‘doffer’ working with the large spinning machines. She is looking for her ex colleagues to help determine how she was exposed to asbestos at Thomas Burnley’s, which was known as Burnley’s, and Round Hill Mill.

Margaret then worked for Richardson’s from 1965 to 1967 where she was responsible for sewing sacks together. Margaret believes the sacks may have contained asbestos or alternatively the sacks may have been made using asbestos materials.  She also recalls working alongside a large industrial boiler, which was filled with coal to heat the building, and this may have been insulated with asbestos.

Nicola Handley, a legal executive at Irwin Mitchell’s Leeds office representing Margaret, said: “Mesothelioma is an aggressive and incurable cancer and causes so much distress for victims like Margaret and their families. At Irwin Mitchell we often hear about people like Margaret who have worked in factories where asbestos may have been widely used but sadly, many employers did not do enough to manage the risks of asbestos exposure despite knowing how dangerous the material is.

“We hope that Margaret’s former colleagues will come forward to help us find out more information about how she was exposed to asbestos whilst working at her former employers so that we can get her the justice she deserves.”

Margaret first started to suffer from the symptoms of mesothelioma in summer 2012 when she became breathless and suffered from a chesty cough and pains in her back while walking her grandchildren to and from school.

Her doctor referred her to Dewsbury Hospital where further tests and scans confirmed she was suffering form mesothelioma.

She said: “The sewing work at Richardson’s was a dirty and dusty job because the grey material we used was old and worn and I’d probably get through between eight and 15 sacks a day. 

“It’s absolutely devastating to think that simply going to work almost 40 years ago may have caused this terrible illness and I wish my employers had given me more information about how asbestos was used and how detrimental it could be to my health.

“I feel really tired and breathless all the time now and don’t have any appetite. But my daughters are helping to look after me and I’m trying to spend as much time as possible with them and my grandchildren.

“I hope my ex-colleagues will come forward with information about the working conditions at the factory so I can make sure my family have some financial security before it’s too late.”

Anyone with information about the working conditions at Thomas Burnley and Sons, Round Hill Mill and Richardson Limited, all based in Batley in the 1960s, should contact Nicola Handley at Irwin Mitchell’s Leeds office on 0113 2206233 or email Nicola.Handley@irwinmitchell.com.