A retired plumber who was exposed to asbestos by multiple employers during his career has secured substantial compensation with the help of Unite Legal Services after being diagnosed with incurable cancer, mesothelioma.

Kenneth Wilkinson, 80, from Millom in Cumbria was diagnosed with the asbestos-related lung cancer in June 2012 after seeking medical attention for a cough which developed a year earlier.

A long standing member of Unite the Union, Mr Wilkinson contacted his regional representative for advice after being dealt the shocking diagnosis. Unite Legal Services instructed their lawyers to investigate his case and uncovered disturbing evidence of over a decade of asbestos exposure.

Working as an apprentice plumber for a building firm

Father of five, grandfather to 11 and great-grandfather of 11, Mr Wilkinson was first exposed to asbestos while working as an apprentice plumber for a building firm during the late 1940s and early 1950s.

He came into contact with the toxic dust while installing piping into the then new local authority housing estates, Queens Park Estate and Grammars Croft Estate.

Later in his career, Mr Wilkinson was exposed while working at the Vickers Shipyard in Barrow and again at Sellafield Power Station.

Never warned by employers that it would set him on the road to cancer

Mr Wilkinson said: “I worked with asbestos for much of my early working life and I was never warned by my employers that it would set me on the road to cancer. We just had to get on with the job in hand and there was no consideration for what might happen decades later.

“It was a real blow to find out I was suffering from mesothelioma and I worry now about my family’s future. This compensation has helped to set my mind at ease and relieve some of the financial pressure we’re under.”

Support and expertise at Thompsons Solicitors

Mick Whitley from Unite the Union added: “The legacy of the employer negligently putting their employees at risk is one we have seen repeated time and again.

“The Unite Legal Service, with the support and expertise at Thompsons Solicitors, is there to make sure our members and their families get the help they require in their hour of need.

“Mr Wilkinson worked in some of the most notorious industries where employers showed casual disregard for the dangers of asbestos exposure and in doing so put his, and many of our other members’, lives at risk.”