The family of a caretaker who developed the fatal cancer mesothelioma caused by asbestos in the school where he worked has received compensation from his former employer.

Thomas Pettman from Aylesford in Kent sadly died, aged 78, from the asbestos related cancer in April 2010 just a few weeks after being diagnosed with the disease.

Mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos. There is no cure.

The great grandfather of three was exposed to asbestos in the boiler room of a school in Kent where he worked as a caretaker.

Diagnosed with mesothelioma

He first began to suffer from ill health in December 2009 when he noticed he had a bad cough. He was diagnosed with mesothelioma in February 2010.

He immediately contacted his trade union UNISON which instructed asbestos claims experts Thompsons Solicitors for advice about compensation. Mr Pettman was determined that his wife, Jackie, should be financially secure following his death.

His daughter, Sharron Russell, continued the claim on behalf of her mother.

She said: “My Dad was determined that Mum would receive every penny she was entitled to. Sadly his health failed rapidly and he died shortly after the initial meeting with Thompsons.

“We felt strongly that the employer was to blame for causing Dad’s death and that mum should be compensated for Dad’s pain and suffering.”

Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer

Thompsons Solicitors secured substantial damages in an out of court settlement after obtaining evidence which forced the employer to admit liability.

Ron Harley, regional manager for Kent and Sussex at UNISON said: “This case shows the important work trade union legal services provide to our members and their families who are affected by asbestos. We will continue to work on behalf of our members to achieve justice for those who suffer injury, illness or death from work related accidents or disease. “

Lorna Webster from Thompsons Solicitors said: “Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer which leaves many sufferers with little time to put their financial affairs in order.

“For Mrs Pettman this compensation will never replace the companionship and love for her husband but it will provide the much needed financial security that he wanted her to have.”