A widow and her children have received compensation for an asbestos-related death after applying one day before the three-year deadline was due.

UNISON, the UK’s largest public sector union, helped recover £170,000 for the family of Roger Blackman, from Kent, who died from the lung lining cancer, mesothelioma, five weeks after he was diagnosed.

Sandra Blackman decided to pursue a claim three years after his death, having read about another victim who had worked for the same firm.

Compensation claims in fatal cases must be brought within three years from the date of death and, in this case, she sought advice just one day before the time limit expired.

Mrs Blackman said: “Roger’s death was so quick that I didn’t even want to think about pursuing compensation at the time. When I read about another man who had worked for the same firm and had the same disease I felt I owed it to Roger to look into it.

“We call the compensation the children’s ‘building fund’ because if Roger was still here he would be helping them with their DIY. It’s what he would have wanted.

“The money will never make up for his companionship but proving who was to blame for his death has helped us come to terms with our sense of loss.”

Roger had been employed as a carpenter for G E Wallis & Son in Maidstone, Kent during the 1960s.

Mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos and there is no cure for the disease, which can take up to 40 years to develop.

Phil Wood, UNISON South Regional Secretary said:“Mr Blackman was exposed to asbestos when doing a hard day’s work. The employers put his health and safety in jeopardy by exposing him to asbestos at a time when they knew, or ought to have known, about the dangers.

“We are pleased we have been able to help provide practical and sympathetic support and obtain compensation for Mr Blackman’s family through UNISON’s legal service.”

Ann-Marie Christie from Thompsons Solicitors added: “Bringing a claim for compensation many years after the death can make the case more difficult to pursue.

“But our specialist mesothelioma claims experience meant we were able to protect the family’s interests, investigate the case quickly and bring it to a successful conclusion.”