A former Major in the Derbyshire Army Cadet Force has received substantial compensation after developing the incurable asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma through his employment with Erewash Borough Council.

Bernard Dean, 61, of Sandiacre, was employed as a joiner with Erewash from 1977 to 1981, based at the Town Hall in Ilkeston. He carried out refurbishment work at council properties and remembers being exposed to asbestos.

There was a specific incident of exposure when he was repairing part of the asbestos panelled roof of the Pavilion in Long Eaton after it was damaged by fire.

Bernard said: “I had to break off the old sheets and place them in a skip. I then used an electric power saw to cut the new asbestos panels and then an electric drill to fix them in place. There was no warning given about the dangers of carrying out this work.”

Bernard used Asbestolux sheets on other jobs, such as to line airing cupboards. He would also rip out panels, doors, windows and soffits from gutters. Many of these were made of asbestos. He remembers many other incidents of exposure.

Also exposed to asbestos when he was an apprentice joiner

He was also exposed to asbestos when he was an apprentice joiner in the 1960s with Rice and Beck, a Nottinghamshire firm that ceased trading.

A fit and healthy man who had received the Lord Lieutenant’s Certificate for meritorious service in the Army Cadet Force, Bernard first experienced breathlessness in December 2008 in the run up to Christmas. He was given an inhaler but his shortness of breath, particularly when walking uphill, worsened.

In January 2009 he had fluid drained from his lungs and the mesothelioma diagnosis came in February.

Asbestos Claims Specialists

Bernard contacted the Derbyshire Asbestos Support Team (DAST) and sought advice from asbestos claims specialists Thompsons Solicitors. His claim was backed throughout by his trade union Unite.

Despite the diagnosis he continues to be as active as possible in the cadets, helping with their 150th anniversary activities. He has also joined with other campaigners to lobby the government about compensation for mesothelioma sufferers.

He met with Jack Straw and Gordon Brown in November 2009 as part of the campaign calling for an Employers’ Liability Insurance Bureau (ELIB) to compensate victims whose former employers no longer exist and their insurers cannot be traced.

Joanne Carlin, DAST co-ordinator said: “Bernard Dean is tremendous. He has a positive outlook and is fighting for justice for others diagnosed with mesothelioma.

“We hope that Bernard’s hard work will pay off and thousands of victims like him will receive their just compensation for negligently being exposed to deadly asbestos dust.”

Without an ELIB, thousands of asbestos victims will be left without compensation

David Fisher from Thompsons Solicitors said: “It was particularly important to Mr Dean that his case was settled in his lifetime so he could make provisions for his wife and family. It wasn’t possible to trace the insurers of Rice and Beck. So even though they had negligently exposed him to asbestos he could not make a claim against them. Had this been his only source of asbestos exposure he would have been unable to secure any compensation. It was only because he also came into contact with asbestos due to the fault of Erewash Council that his claim was successful.

”As many as one in ten mesothelioma sufferers lose out on compensation entirely because the employer is no longer in business and the insurer cannot be traced. The previous government consulted on setting up an ELIB and we are waiting on the new government to confirm what it intends to do. Without an ELIB, thousands of asbestos victims will be left without compensation.”