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Former Textile Worker Appeals For Witnesses After Mesothelioma Diagnosis

Expert Asbestos-Related Illness Lawyers Helping Victim To Seek Justice


A retired textile worker who spent much of her working life in the north-west is appealing to her former workmates for help in her legal battle for justice, after she was diagnosed with mesothelioma, an asbestos-related cancer.

Helene Titl, formerly Helene Jones, 83, began feeling breathless in January 2014 and was left devastated when she was diagnosed with the disease in March 2014, which was caused by exposure to dangerous asbestos dust decades ago.

The mother-of-two has now asked expert industrial disease lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to help her investigate where and why she was exposed to asbestos and seek justice from her previous employers for failing to prevent her exposure to the hazardous substance.

Mrs Titl, who now lives in Washington, Tyne and Wear, is seeking justice and a settlement which will be used to provide vital care and support for her as she deals with the terminal illness. She believes she was exposed to asbestos dust at a number of textile mills she worked at in the Lancashire area and is appealing for her former colleagues to help with the investigations.

After moving to Preston from Vienna in 1949 Mrs Titl trained as a textile weaver in Preston and Chorley, where she worked weaving cotton and parachute silk in dusty conditions, before moving to Ruskin Street Mill, Burnley in 1957. There she operated two or three mechanical looms at once.

She believes these machines were run by belts from a system of pulleys which were powered by turbines connected to boilers, which were asbestos lagged.  Mrs Titl also said there were overhead vents in some of the buildings and humidifiers that emitted steam through square ducts, generated from the boiler room, to keep the cotton moist and maintain its strength.

From 1961 to 1964 she worked as a jacquard textile weaver in buildings on Netherwood Road, Heasandford, Burnley for Ingham & Lee (Heasandford) Limited, before moving on to another textile mill in the town operated by Stephen Cann & Company.

Mrs Titl then spent five or six years working at the textile mill in Plumbe Street, Burnley, which she believes was owned by Joshua Hoyle & Son (Burnley) Limited, weaving cotton silk in a large weaving shed, before working in the Miners’ Working Men’s Club on Plumbe Street until 1973.

Between 1973 and 1997 she worked for the NAAFI in Germany, initially training as a catering assistant, before being posted to RAF Laarbruch on the border between Germany and the Netherlands for five years. 

She then spent time living and working at a number of armed forced bases around Germany and the Netherlands including:

• Birgelen - 1978
• Dortmund - 1979
• Bracht - 1980-83
• Ratinger - 1983
• Brunssum, Netherlands - 1983
• Birkenfeld - 1983-87
• Hanover - 1987
• Hameln - 1989-90
• Verden – 1990-97

Isobel Lovett, an expert industrial disease lawyer at Irwin Mitchell’s Newcastle office, leading the case, said:

Helene, who has two children, said: “I was totally shocked when I was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, which was caused by my exposure to asbestos dust during my working life many years ago.

“At the time of my diagnosis I was still working, was very fit, independent and living alone, however I now feel more fragile and my son Larry has been helping me around the house.

“I am extremely worried about how the illness will affect me and I am not sure how I will manage if I need more care, as my daughter Maureen lives nearby but has to work full time and my son now lives in London.

“Hopefully my former colleagues will come forward with the information we need to progress the case and ensure justice is done.”

Anyone who thinks they may be able to help is asked to contact Isobel Lovett at Irwin Mitchell Solicitors on 0191 279 0100 or email isobel.lovett@irwinmitchell.com.

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