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Widow Appeals For Help After Late Husband’s Death From Asbestos-Related Lung Cancer

Expert Industrial Disease Lawyers Investigating Asbestos Exposure


The devastated widow of a former north-east welder is appealing to her late husband’s former colleagues for help after he died from lung cancer, which was caused by his exposure to asbestos decades previously.


George Sharpless, from Gateshead, died at the age of 84 in April 2015 after being diagnosed with lung cancer.


His widow, Maureen, 78, is now desperately seeking information from those who worked alongside George at Swan Hunters Shipbuilders Limited at sites across the North East where George worked for more than 40 years.


She has instructed expert industrial disease lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to launch an investigation into how and where George was exposed to the substance during his lengthy employment at the firm.


Maureen, who was married to George for 56 years, told her legal team that George carried out his apprenticeship at Swan Hunters in the late 1940s. He was employed as an electrical welder and worked on a number of ships at the company’s shipyards in Newcastle.


Expert lawyers at Irwin Mitchell have represented a number of people who were exposed to asbestos while working on-board ships. They know from experience that the working conditions were often cramped and poorly ventilated and that tradesmen worked alongside each other and that asbestos dust and fibres would often be released into the working atmosphere.


Roger Maddocks, a Partner and expert asbestos-related disease lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, said:


Expert Opinion
“Asbestos can be extremely hazardous material and if ingested poses a significant health risk. Sadly, George developed lung cancer as a result of his exposure and his family are now desperate to understand how and why he was exposed to the substance.

“We are calling on anyone who worked with George from the 1940s until 1985, when he was made redundant by the firm, to come forward and provide us and his family with any information they have about the working environment, the safety measures in place at the time, and the warnings, if any, provided to staff about the dangers of asbestos exposure.”
Roger Maddocks, Partner


As an electrical welder it is likely that George was exposed to the deadly dust during his daily work and Maureen said he talked about working on the Northumbria, Illustrious, Hibernia and Ark Royal ships specifically.


Before his death George told Maureen that he often worked alongside laggers, who would mix asbestos paste and apply it to the ships’ pipework. He said he worked alongside them daily and that the working atmosphere would be very dusty.


Maureen, a grandmother-of-four, said: “George dedicated 40 years of his life to Swan Hunters and even returned to the company for a couple of years after he was made redundant. To find out that the lung cancer he developed was caused by asbestos exposure just adds insult to injury.


“It was heart breaking to see him in so much pain and suffering and I can only hope that those who worked alongside him on a daily basis will come forward and help provide us and our legal team with the information we need.


“I want to keep fighting for George and make sure those responsible for failing to protect him from the dangers of asbestos are held to account in some way.”


Anyone with information on the working conditions at Swan Hunters shipyards in Newcastle should contact Emma Crowther on 0191 279 0104 or email Emma.Crowther@IrwinMitchell.com

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

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