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Devastated Widower Of Builders’ Receptionist Calls For Ex-Colleagues To Help Investigation

Devastated Widower Of Builders’ Receptionist Calls For Ex-Colleagues To Help Investigation


By Suzanne Rutter

The devastated husband of a woman who died from an asbestos-related cancer is backing calls for her former colleagues to get in touch as they may hold vital information about how and why she came into contact with the hazardous dust. 

Mary Theresa Duffin died aged 63 on 13 February 2012 after suffering from mesothelioma for 15 months. Before she died Mary told her husband Alan she believed she remembered working around asbestos during her time at W M Monks Ltd builders’ merchants, based on Queens Road in Sheffield.

Mary was a receptionist at the firm between 1971 and 1974 and recalls walking through the firm’s yard every day where builders and tradesmen were working with and cuttings asbestos sheets. The firm has since closed.

Alan Duffin, of Silkstone in Barnsley, has now instructed expert industrial disease lawyers at Irwin Mitchell who are appealing for Mary’s ex colleagues to come forward to help piece together information about the working conditions she endured at W M Monks Ltd.

Martyn Hayward, a solicitor at Irwin Mitchell’s Sheffield office representing Alan, said: “Mesothelioma is an aggressive and incurable cancer and causes so much distress to victims like Mary and their families. Sadly, many employers did not do enough to manage the risks of asbestos exposure despite knowing how dangerous it is.

“People have the right to work in a safe environment without the risk of illness and we hope our investigations can finally help Alan obtain the justice he deserves in Mary’s memory.”

Mary, who was known by her maiden name O’Donovan and her family name Maura during her time at the company, first started to show the symptoms of mesothelioma in September 2010 when she was on holiday with her husband in Tuscany and had trouble breathing.

She visited the accident and emergency department at Barnsley District General Hospital when she returned home where tests and scans revealed she had fluid on her lungs.

She was diagnosed with mesothelioma in October 2010 and endured two rounds of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, followed by palliative care at Weston Park Hospital in Sheffield.

Alan, age 65, said: “We were absolutely devastated when doctors said Mary was suffering from mesothelioma and that she might not have long left. Mary was aware of the terminal diagnosis as she knew the husband of a friend who had died from the same disease, so it was a frightening time for her.

Even though we were both aware of the prognosis, I don’t think I’ll ever get over losing her in such a terrible way – we were both looking forward to enjoying our future together.

“It’s important to find out more about how and why she was exposed to asbestos so that I can honour her memory and get a measure of justice for what we’ve been through.”

Anyone with any information about the working conditions at W M Monks Ltd in the 1970s should contact Martyn Hayward at Irwin Mitchell’s Sheffield office on 0114 274 4615 or email martyn.hayward@irwinmitchell.com.

Read more about Irwin Mitchell’s expertise related to Mesothelioma Compensation Claims.