A UNITE member has been awarded £130,000 in compensation after he developed a deadly cancer after being exposed to asbestos in the workplace.

Granddad Doug Conroy, 70, from Pembroke Dock in Pembrokeshire, has been awarded the damages after he developed mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the lung.

He was helped to claim the money by his union, Unite, and their lawyers, Thompsons Solicitors.

There is no cure for mesothelioma which is caused by exposure to asbestos and can take up to 30 years to develop.

Often patients have just months to live following diagnosis.

Doug was first exposed to asbestos while he was still a teenager training to be an electrician with W H Smith, Electrical Engineers and Contractors in the 1950s. He remembers working in asbestos ridden areas while installing cabling, lighting and power systems at steelworks, chemical plants and coke works around the UK, including the Redbourne works in Scunthorpe and the Dorman Long steelworks in Middlesbrough.

He was later exposed to the dangerous dust again while working for Drake & Gorham in 1971 to 1973 building Pembroke power station. He installed electrical systems and spent time working in the boiler house where pipes were being lagged with asbestos. He remembers the asbestos ‘snowing’ down from the floors above. He was never given any protection.

Doug, who has three children and two grandchildren, was diagnosed with mesothelioma in February 2004 and has undergone chemotherapy, radiotherapy and a specialist operation in Leicester to help his condition.

He said he knows he is lucky to have received his compensation in his lifetime.

He said: “When I was diagnosed with mesothelioma it was a hell of a shock. I thought I knew what was wrong with me – I thought it was heart trouble. So when they said it was mesothelioma I thought ‘I am finished’.

“I know I am one of the exceptional ones. I am extremely lucky to still be here. The doctor said there was nothing he could do for me.

“Most people who get this illness do not live to see the compensation. It can take a long time for it to come through. I am just pleased that now I can provide for my family after I am gone and while I am still here I can enjoy a little bit of comfort.”

Andy Richards, Unite regional secretary added: “We will continue to fight to ensure asbestos victims, like Mr Conroy, retain their right to claim full compensation for the injuries they have suffered through merely carrying out a hard day’s work.

“It is only right that these victims are compensated by their employers’ insurers for the hardship caused by unwittingly being exposed to asbestos.”

Client representative, Eamonn McDonough from Thompsons Solicitors’ Cardiff office added: “We are pleased to have helped Mr Conroy to successfully claim damages for his exposure to asbestos. It was a long fight – not helped by the insurers disputing that he did not have his disease, as he has thankfully lived longer than some with his dreadful and unnecessary disease. It was important for Mr Conroy to have his due entitlement while he was still alive and could make use of it.

“At Thompsons we work hard to ensure that our clients gain justice and proper compensation for their condition.”