The family of a Unite the union member has received compensation after he died from an asbestos related cancer.

Denis Aspin from Earl Shilton, Leicester, was 64 when he died from mesothelioma in November 2008. He left behind his wife, Diane, his daughter and four stepchildren, including his disabled stepdaughter Nicky.

Mesothelioma is a type of cancer of the lining of the lung and stomach. It is caused by exposure to asbestos and the disease develops decades after exposure to the dust.

Exposed to asbestos at work

Mr Aspin was exposed to asbestos while working for Caterpillar UK’s Desford factory. He was as an assembler from 1979 until 2008, when he took voluntary redundancy.

During that time he worked in a warehouse alongside the maintenance department where asbestos was used. Asbestos was also present in the heating system.

He was never warned that asbestos was being used nearby nor of the dangers.

Diagnosed with mesothelioma

Mr Aspin went to his GP in September 2008 after suffering from breathlessness. He was diagnosed with mesothelioma and underwent surgery. Sadly he died in November 2008 after returning to hospital for a secondary operation.

Before his death he contacted his trade union Unite, and instructed asbestos claims experts Thompsons Solicitors to claim compensation from Caterpillar UK.

His autistic stepdaughter, Nicky, 35, needs round the clock care. His daughter Yvette is at university and he was concerned about their future.

Thompsons Solicitors made claim for compensation

Following his death Diane continued his claim. Thompsons were successful in securing compensation from Caterpillar in an out of court settlement.

Diane said: “It is impossible to describe how my husband’s development of mesothelioma and subsequent death has affected our family. We are all completely devastated. I don’t think we will ever recover emotionally from the fact that he worked hard all his life, retired and then almost immediately was diagnosed and died within a couple of months.

“Denis decided to pursue compensation as he was worried about how we would cope financially. We have one daughter at university and another who is severely autistic and relies on 24-hour care.

“This compensation will allow us to ensure that their needs are provided for but no amount of money will ever make up for my husband’s death.”

Mesothelioma affects many people who were exposed to asbestos in the workplace

Adrian Axtel from Unite said: “The union willingly supported Mrs Aspin in her claim for compensation. Sadly mesothelioma is a disease which affects many of our members who were exposed to asbestos in the workplace but were never warned of the dangers or protected by the employer.”

Reuben Greenwood from Thompsons Solicitors added: “This settlement can never compensate Diane and her family for the loss of their husband and father. The damages will at least give Diane the funds she needs on a practical level to provide the professional support she needs to care for her autistic daughter.”