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Widow Seeks Justice After Losing Husband To Industrial Disease

Asbestos Experts Appeal To Factory Worker’s Former Colleagues For Help


By Helen MacGregor

The widow of a former factory worker left heartbroken after her husband died of an asbestos-related cancer before doctors had time to diagnose him is appealing to his former colleagues to help in her battle for justice.

Grandfather-of-11 Albert Heaton from North Redditch died of mesothelioma, a cancer on the lining of the lungs caused by inhaling asbestos dust, in December 2010 aged 71 years.  He leaves behind his wife of 49 years Sheila, four adult children and a great-grandchild.

Devastated by her loss, Sheila instructed asbestos-related disease experts at law firm Irwin Mitchell who are calling on Albert’s former colleagues at Granville Tin Plate Co Ltd in Bilston to get in touch.

It is believed they may be able to provide vital information about the presence of asbestos and working conditions at the factory whilst Albert worked there as a duct maker and fitter from 1954 to 1960.

Kim Barrett, an industrial illness expert at Irwin Mitchell’s Birmingham office representing Sheila, said: “The family have been left shocked and unable to come to terms with Albert’s death because he deteriorated so quickly.

“Sheila remembered Albert’s time at Granville’s factory as he worked there when they began courting and she used to work nearby so he would visit her on his lunch hour. She can recall his overalls always being very dusty.

“As well as making ducting in the factory, Albert used to visit other sites where he was responsible for removing old ducting and fitting the replacement which could also be a dusty job.

“We’d now like to hear from anyone that worked at Granville’s between 1954 and 1960 as we believe they may hold vital information about the presence of asbestos and working conditions that could help bring justice for Albert’s loved ones.

“Mesothelioma is an industrial illness for which there is sadly no cure. Employers have been aware of the dangers of exposing workers to asbestos dust since the 1950 and 60s and this case highlights the devastating consequences the disease can have.”

Sheila noticed Albert was short of breath at the end of 2009 and he had lost a lot of weight before this. He saw doctors but initial tests didn’t flag anything.

By the end of November 2010 he was so weak he could no longer get round the house and he was admitted to Alexandra Hospital.

A scan revealed Albert had cancer in his lungs but he was too ill for doctors to carry out a biopsy to confirm the type of cancer and he was sent home on 6 December where he died three days later. A post-mortem revealed the cause of death as mesothelioma.

Sheila, 72, said: “Albert was my world and I still struggle to accept he is no longer here. We met at school and began courting soon after we left so I can barely remember my life without him. We should have been planning our 50th wedding anniversary when he became ill but never got chance to make the milestone.

“Albert was never one to complain so when his health began deteriorating it was difficult to know how poorly he was.

“Once he was admitted to hospital we knew it was serious but never imagined he would be taken from us so quickly. It was heartbreaking but also made me angry to learn that he had died from something he had no control over through being exposed so long ago.

“Albert was a great family man and we all now want to see justice for his death. I hope any of his former colleagues get in touch as information might help us to piece together what went wrong and come to terms with what has happened.”

Anyone who thinks they can help is asked to contact Kim Barrett at Irwin Mitchell on 0370 1500 100 or email kim.barrett@irwinmitchell.com 

Read more about Irwin Mitchell’s expertise related to mesothelioma