A GRANDFATHER from Bradford who was diagnosed with asbestos-related cancer is appealing to his former work colleagues to come forward with information that may help determine how he developed the illness.

John Hinchcliffe went to see his GP in November last year complaining of breathing difficulties. He underwent a series of tests and one month later he was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the lungs most commonly associated with exposure to asbestos decades previously.

Following his diagnosis, John instructed specialist asbestos-related disease lawyers at national firm Irwin Mitchell to investigate his illness and establish whether it was linked to his work history.

As part of the ongoing investigation, the legal experts are now seeking more information on the conditions John would have faced while working for S H Rawnsley in Wilsden and Mulcotts Belting Company at Dudley Hill.

Nicola Handley, the specialist asbestos-related disease lawyer at Irwin Mitchell representing John, said: “John was understandably devastated when he was given his diagnosis, and he is still trying to come to terms with what it means for him and his family.

“Through our work, we sadly come across families whose lives have been destroyed by asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma, many years after the exposure to the substance has occurred.

“While nothing can be done to change what has happened to John, we are determined to establish whether his contact with asbestos took place during his working years.

“To help with our investigations, we would be interested in hearing from anyone who may have worked alongside John at either of the companies in question. Any piece of information, no matter how small, could be vital in our efforts.”

John worked as a weaver over-looker for Mulcotts Belting Company at Dudley Hill in Bradford from 1954 to 1974. The company made belts for engineering firms, and John recalls that some of the belts would get hot so they had asbestos in them for heat resistance.

John added: “I remember working in the asbestos shed and my duties included making sure the asbestos belt was coming off the loom properly and that the loom was working, so I had to crawl underneath it. Afterwards, I often looked like I was covered in flour as the floor was so dusty.

“In the asbestos shed, there was a constant huge cloud of dust with fibres flying about in the air. I could swallow it very easily. The looms did have extraction systems but they only took away a little bit of the dust.”

From 1975 to 2000/2001, John was employed by S H Rawnsley and ATC Manufacturing at their mill at Wilsden in Bradford. The company made worsted materials and John worked again as an over-looker.

In the boiler room, the boiler was covered in lagging and John believed it may have been made out of asbestos.

He added: “When repairs were carried out on the lagging, it would produce large clouds of dust in the air.”

John, 81, has been married to wife Doreen, 73, for 23 years. He has four step-children, 10 grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

He first began to notice he was unwell last Summer when he started getting out of breath. By November, he was waking up in the night unable to breathe. He saw his GP who referred him to hospital for tests.

Following a chest x-ray and biopsy, John was fitted with a chest drain. He was diagnosed with mesothelioma in early December.

Speaking on his diagnosis, John said: “It was a huge shock and very distressing when I found out. They said they couldn’t do anything for me, and it was only a matter of time, which was terribly difficult to take in.

“I don’t have any pain, but I do have problems breathing when walking. I get short of breath quite easily, and it is particularly worse when I do any exercise or I am speaking to people for a long time.

“Before I became unwell, I enjoyed looking after the grandchildren, doing the gardening and hillwalking, but all of that is a real struggle now. We have even had to cancel our holiday to Lanzarote for February next year, which is incredibly upsetting.

“The diagnosis continues to weigh on my mind, but I am grateful to have Doreen. She has been helping a lot, caring for and supporting me. She does everything for me.

“I wish I could turn back the clock and stop this from happening, but that’s not possible, so Doreen and I are trying to remain positive and take each day as it comes.

“In the meantime, I would be grateful to anyone who could come forward with any information on how I could have developed the illness. I deserve to know how this happened.”

Anyone with information that may assist with this case is asked to contact Nicola Handley at Irwin Mitchell in Leeds on 01132 206233 or by e-mail at Nicola.handley@irwinmitchell.com.