A retired FBU member diagnosed with cancer after being exposed to asbestos has received substantial compensation.

Gordon Young from Northumberland worked as a shipyard joiner before becoming a fire-fighter. He employed at Blyth Dry Docks and Shipbuilding Co Ltd between 1959 -1966. As a joiner, he made furniture for ships and fitted out cabins. He cut asbestos sheets to box in pipes and worked alongside laggers.

Between 1967 and 1994 he was a fire-fighter with Northumberland County Council and had further exposure to asbestos attending fires at power stations, factories and ship yards, often breaking through asbestos lagging to isolate the source of a fire.

Diagnosed with mesothelioma, an incurable cancer

He began to experience breathing difficulties in July 2012 and was diagnosed with mesothelioma, an incurable cancer, in November of that year. The 69-year-old has undergone a four-month course of chemotherapy.

Gordon contacted industrial disease specialists Thompsons Solicitors through the FBU.

Mr Young said: “I was in total disbelief when I was first diagnosed with mesothelioma. I’ve heard of colleagues from the shipyard and the fire service who were diagnosed too, but it still doesn’t prepare you for the shock of when it happens to you.

“At Blyth Dry Docks I was aware that I was working with asbestos but I had no idea of the dangers to my health. Again, when I worked for the fire service, I didn’t wear any protection for the first two years of joining the brigade and I wasn’t warned of the danger I was being put in just by doing my job.

“Mesothelioma is a devastating disease. Physically I am very limited which is frustrating as I have always been active. Thompsons Solicitors put me in touch with MacMillan Cancer Support who have been able to help me secure benefits.

“I would like to thank the FBU and Thompsons Solicitors for all their hard work in securing my settlement, and for their support.”

Over a decade of exposure to asbestos before given protection

Pete Wilcox, FBU Regional Secretary, said: “This is another tragic case of too little too late. Mr Young had already had over a decade of exposure to asbestos by the time he was given any sort of protection and now he is suffering the consequences of his employer’s failure to protect him.”

Helen Jones, from Thompsons Solicitors, said: “The FBU legal service came to his assistance straight away when he needed it most. By using Thompsons’ specialist experience of asbestos claims and acting quickly it was possible to bring his claim to a successful conclusion so that he and his family are financially secure and the negligent employers have been held to account.”