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Former Bomb Factory Worker Battling Mesothelioma Appeals For Information About His Asbestos Exposure

Expert Lawyers Appeal For Information To Help 83-Year-Old Great-Grandad


An 83-year-old great-grandad, who worked in a factory which made bombs for the Air Force and Ministry of Defence during the Second World War is appealing for his former colleagues to come forward with vital information about his exposure to the deadly dust so he can get the justice he deserves.

Thomas William Fox, of Thornaby, Stockton-on-Tees, was diagnosed with the incurable cancer mesothelioma in February 2013 after tests at the North Tees Hospital were carried out to find out why he was feeling so breathless.

Thomas, who is known to his family and friends as Tom or Tommy, believes he was exposed to asbestos while working at Head Wrightson and Company Limited in Trafalgar Street, Thornaby, which is now known as Davy Property Holdings Limited.  He worked at the firm’s High Piper Knowle Road works in Stockton and the firm’s Thornaby workshops between 1945/46 and 1954.

He also believes he could have been exposed to asbestos at W Shaw and Company Limited, based on Forty Foot Road, Middlesbrough, from 1954 to 1977.

Tom, who has four children, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, has now instructed specialist industrial disease lawyers at Irwin Mitchell and together they are appealing for his ex work mates to come forward with information about his asbestos exposure and whether anything more could have been done to protect him.

Isobel Lovett, an expert industrial disease lawyer at Irwin Mitchell’s Newcastle office representing him, said: “Mesothelioma is an aggressive and incurable cancer which causes so much distress for victims like Tom who worked in factories and workshops where we believe 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 Tom’s former colleagues will come forward to help us investigate why more wasn’t done to protect employees like him from the deadly affects of asbestos so we can get him the answers he deserves.”

In 1945/46 Tom joined Head Wrightson and Company as an apprentice moulder at the High Piper Knowle Road workshop, where he helped to make bombs for the Air Force and MoD. His job entailed making moulds out of sand, which were then set in industrial sized ovens which he believes were lagged with asbestos.

Between 1950 and 1954 he worked at the firm’s Thornaby plant where he completed his apprenticeship and continued to work as a qualified moulder. His work meant he came into close contact with huge industrial furnaces, which were as large as the size of two houses and lagged with asbestos.

In 1954 he began working for steel foundry W Shaw and Company, again as a moulder, where he was responsible for making moulds to cast large metal items such as cog wheels and anchors for oil rig platforms.

Tom, who has been married to his wife Sheila for 60 years, first started to suffer from breathlessness in around 2011 and he was referred to the North Tees Hospital where a biopsy confirmed he had mesothelioma in February 2013. He was then transferred to James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough, and is currently undergoing chemotherapy to help alleviate the symptoms of the incurable illness.

He said: “It’s absolutely devastating to think I could be suffering from this terrible disease simply because I went to work about 50 years ago to provide for my family.

“I’ve worked for Head Wrightson’s High Piper Mill Knowle Road and Thornaby workshops as well as W Shaw’s Middlesborough factory and they all had industrial sized ovens lagged with asbestos to keep the heat in. The asbestos was always crumbly and had to be replaced regularly. I couldn’t help but breathe the dust in because I worked just a few feet from the furnaces.

“The treatment I’m having makes me feel really tired and I know my illness is affecting our grandchildren in particular because I can’t see them as much as I used to.

“I hope as many of my ex work mates will come forward with information about the working conditions I endured to help Irwin Mitchell investigate my case and get me the justice I deserve before it’s too late.”

Anyone with information about the working conditions at Head Wrightson and Company Limited’s Stockton or Thornaby workshops or W Shaw and Company Limited in Middlesbrough should contact Isobel Lovett at Irwin Mitchell’s Newcastle office on 0191 279 0100 or email isobel.lovett@irwinmitchell.com

Our expert mesothelioma solicitors will provide you with free initial advice on your compensation claim if you or a loved on has been diagnosed with mesothelioma caused by asbestos exposure. See our Asbestos-Related Disease Claims Guide for more information.

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