A former plumber from Scunthorpe has secured a six-figure settlement after asbestos exposure at work caused him to develop mesothelioma.

The 79-year-old was first exposed to asbestos in 1955 as an apprentice plumber at a shipyard. To repair asbestos-insulated ship pipework he would chip away the insulation, creating a substantial amount of dust. He wasn’t aware of the damage the dust was doing to his lungs, and his employers didn’t provide him with any masks or ventilation to remove the dust.

He continued to do similar work at other shipyards and engineering plants, leaving him exposed to asbestos for decades.

In January 2016, the Unite member began experiencing breathing difficulties while playing golf. When they failed to subside and he developed severe chest pain, he visited his GP.

Roughly a year after his symptoms first developed, he was diagnosed with mesothelioma.

“I knew nothing about mesothelioma before my diagnosis,” he said. “It was all such a shock. It’s still not really sunk in that this has happened.

“I’ve had to stop playing golf, and going for walks – something I used to enjoy doing – because it is now a chore. I’m having treatment, which I hope can ease my pain, but I’m not who I used to be.”

After his diagnosis, he turned to Unite Legal Services and contacted asbestos disease specialists Thompsons Solicitors to make a compensation claim.

"We are pleased he turned to our legal services team for support and that we could help him secure the maximum compensation possible, with no deductions for the expert help he received."

Kevin Hepworth
East Midlands regional legal officer at Unite the Union

The experts at Thompsons Solicitors understand the devastating impact that asbestos has on families across the UK, and has supported clients since it brought about the first-ever successful asbestos disease case in the UK to the House of Lords in 1972. The firm’s #PastButPresent is highlighting the stories of communities exposed to asbestos in the past, who have been affected by the horrendous disease in the present.

“My diagnosis has created a lot of uncertainty,” he said. “But thanks to Unite Legal Services and Thompsons, I can at least knowledge that my partner and family will be financially secure in the future. They’ve also put me in contact with support groups, I wouldn’t have known about these if it wasn’t for Unite Legal Services and Thompsons.”

Kevin Hepworth, East Midlands regional legal officer at Unite the Union, said: “Our once healthy and active member has had his life turned upside down since his mesothelioma diagnosis. As the man had worked at a number of shipyards, engineering plants and factories during his career it required our team’s expertise, and that of the asbestos specialists at Thompsons, to pinpoint exactly when and where he was exposed to asbestos. Thankfully, we were successful.

“We are pleased he turned to our legal services team for support and that we could help him secure the maximum compensation possible, with no deductions for the expert help he received.”