The widow of a Baildon man who died from an asbestos-related cancer is appealing for his former colleagues to help lawyers investigate if more could have been done by his employers to protect him.
John Devine, died aged 64 only two months after being diagnosed with mesothelioma, a fatal asbestos-related cancer affecting the lining of the lungs which he believed was as a result of exposure to harmful dust and fibres four decades ago.
His widow Patricia, 65 instructed industrial Illness experts at law firm Irwin Mitchell to investigate where he was exposed to asbestos and why he was not provided with adequate safety equipment to protect him during his employment at various companies.
Mr Devine left school and went to work for James Robinson & Co, in Huddersfield from 1964 to 1970 as an apprentice fitter. He then worked for Shell Tankers in the Merchant Navy.
Between 1972 and 1975 he worked for Hopkinson Valves based on Blacker Road in Huddersfield where he was an engineer responsible for carrying out routine maintenance at the factory and several power stations in the area where asbestos was present.
Mrs Devine, who was married to him for 35 years and has two daughters and four grandchildren, said: “John’s condition deteriorated rapidly over the months after his diagnosis and he had to spend a week in a hospice because he was in so much pain and needed constant care from the nurses.
"It was heartbreaking to see him suffer; and as a family we felt helpless.
“John was still working at the time of his diagnosis and we were both looking forward to spending our retirement years together.
"I am still trying to come to terms with his death and the fact that we will not be growing old together as we had planned.
“When his illness kicked in it was so rapid that we barely had time to come to terms with it. It is so important that we now find the answers to how this happened.”
Every year, on the first Friday of July, organisations across the UK hold events locally to raise awareness of mesothelioma and other asbestos related disease, to commemorate people who have died and to raise funds for research and patient support as part of Action Mesothelioma Day.
Nicola Handley, an industrial disease specialist at Irwin Mitchell’s Leeds office representing Mr Devine's family, said: “We are now continuing his fight for justice with Patricia to find out why he was exposed to asbestos.
"We urge any of John’s former colleagues to come forward to help us with the investigation with any information about the working conditions and his employment.
“Mesothelioma is incurable and the debilitating symptoms can only be treated temporarily. The effects of working with asbestos often don’t occur until decades later, and John’s family have suffered terribly simply because he wasn’t adequately protected at work."
Anyone who knew or worked with John and who can provide any information is asked to contact Nicola Handley at Irwin Mitchell on 0113 220 6233 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org