The daughter of an East Yorkshire office worker who died of asbestos-related cancer is urging anyone with symptoms to get checked immediately.

Renée Raper’s mum, Clarinda (Linda) Owst, died of mesothelioma more than 30 years after working in the offices of an East Yorkshire smelting works.

The grandmother-of-two died in September 2017 aged 85, just six months after being diagnosed with the asbestos-related cancer. She never knew how she contracted the illness.

“My mother was a wonderful woman and she deserved better,” Ms Raper said. “She worked hard all of her life and deserved to be kept safe by her employers while she did so. She knew it was dusty in her workplace but she died not knowing how or where she was exposed to asbestos.”

Linda with her granddaughters Katy and Emma
Linda with her granddaughters Katy and Emma

Shortly before her death, Ms Owst, who was a Unite the Union member, had turned to Unite Legal Services for help in understanding how she could have been exposed to asbestos. She instructed Thompsons Solicitors to support a compensation claim.

After her death, Ms Raper continued her quest for justice - appealing for help in piecing together how her mum, a retired office worker, had become so ill in the final months of her life.

Linda’s story is an important reminder that, while nothing can undo the tragedy the cancer causes, employers can be held to account - even after a loved one’s death.

Andrew Venn

Thompsons Solicitors, which has been supporting trade union members with asbestos-related illnesses since 1972, helped Renee appeal for information on working conditions from her mum’s former colleagues. Someone who worked with her mum confirmed she was in daily contact with workers whose overalls would have been covered in asbestos dust, including in her office and the canteen, as well as when walking through the factory.

“I wanted to make sure I got the answers that she deserved,” she said. “I am proud that I was able to do that for her, but I’d urge anyone with mesothelioma symptoms to go get them checked urgently, regardless of Covid-19. Early diagnosis means better access to care and more time to get the answers you deserve in your lifetime.”

Thompsons secured damages for Ms Raper and, more importantly, helped her get the answers she needed about her mother’s death.

Andrew Venn, the asbestos disease specialist at the firm who supported the claim, said: “Linda’s story is an important reminder that, while nothing can undo the tragedy the cancer causes, employers can be held to account - even after a loved one’s death.

“That said, I urge anyone diagnosed with mesothelioma to get specialist legal advice as soon as possible. It may be the last thing you want to think of at the time, but you deserve answers in your lifetime, as well as access to the best possible support, and a specialist asbestos solicitor can help you get both.”

Pat Rafferty at Unite the Union, said: “Unfortunately, despite asbestos being banned several decades ago, we speak to far too many members and their families, like Linda and Renée, whose lives have been torn apart by the impact of past asbestos exposure.

“We are proud to support them, but urge anyone concerned they may have mesothelioma symptoms to get checked immediately. Despite Covid-19, cancer services are still running – please don’t put that appointment off.”