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Wife Of Heavy Machinery Driver Who Died From Asbestos-Related Illness Appeals For Information

Expert Lawyers Help Grandmother-Of-Four In Battle For Justice


By Suzanne Rutter

The wife of a grandfather-of-four who died from a debilitating asbestos-related illness is appealing for his ex co-workers from the Fylde Water Board to help lawyers investigate how he was exposed to the deadly dust.

Wilfrid Cuerden, of Clayton-le-Woods in Chorley, Lancashire, was diagnosed with mesothelioma in March 2012 and believed the condition was caused by exposure to asbestos while working for Fox Brothers Plant Hire in Blackpool, in the 60’s and 70’s. He died in February 2013 aged 71.

His wife Dorothea, who has instructed specialist industrial disease lawyers at Irwin Mitchell in a bid to establish how and when he was exposed to the dust, is appealing for her husband’s former co-workers at the Fylde Water Board to provide information about the working conditions he endured.

At Fox Brothers, Wilfrid was a heavy plant machinery driver between 1968 and 1970 and was responsible for digging trenches before employees from the water board - who he worked with on major housing projects in Lytham St Anne’s - laid the pipes made from asbestos cement.

Before his death, Wilfrid recalled the water board employees cutting the pipes to size with a hacksaw and he said he couldn’t help but breathe in the asbestos fibres and dust.

Katrina London, an associate solicitor and industrial disease expert from Irwin Mitchell’s Manchester office representing Dorothea, said: “Mesothelioma is an aggressive and incurable cancer which causes so much distress for victims like Wilfrid who worked in the building trade where asbestos was regularly used. Sadly, many employers did not do enough to manage the risks of asbestos exposure despite knowing how dangerous it is.

“We hope that Wilfrid’s former co-workers will come forward to help answer the many questions Dorothea has about her husband’s asbestos exposure as well as what measures, if any, were in place to protect employees like him. It’s important that we now help Dorothea honour Wilfred’s memory and get him the justice he deserves.”

Wilfrid, who was married to his wife Dorothea for 32 years, first started to suffer from the effects of the debilitating disease in February 2012 when his doctor treated him for a persistent cough.  Further tests were carried out at both Chorley and Blackpool Hospitals which conformed he was suffering from the incurable disease mesothelioma, which is caused by asbestos exposure.

Before he died in February he was so unwell he and Dorothea was too weak to make the long journey to Bath to see their grandchildren. He also used to love walking and gardening but struggled because he felt constantly breathless.

Dorothea said: “Wilfrid’s job for Fox Brothers was always so dirty and dusty because he worked just a few feet away from the water board team cutting the asbestos-lagged pipes as he dug out the trenches for them to be laid into.

“It’s devastating to think he suffered such a terrible illness simply because he went to work every day digging trenches for the local water board.

“Until June last year he was still going for short walks to keep fit but he didn’t really have the energy and enthusiasm any more. He lost lots of weight because he struggled to eat and I know he was upset he couldn’t make the journey down south to see our grandchildren anymore because the journey was too tiring.

“I’m devastated he’s gone but I really hope the other men he worked with at the Flyde Water Board will now help the team at Irwin Mitchell investigate the conditions he worked in so that I can get him the justice he deserves.”

Anyone with information about how employees at the Fylde Water Board were exposed to asbestos should contact Katrina London at Irwin Mitchell’s Manchester office on 0161 838 7262 or email katrina.london@irwinmitchell.com.

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