Ex-labourer in appeal for help after cancer diagnosis

A former labourer who spent 30 years repairing ships is appealing for help and information after he was diagnosed with lung cancer.

James Robert Errington, 75, from Willington Quay, believes his diagnosis earlier this year is due to exposure to asbestos decades ago.

The diagnosis I received completely knocked me and my family for six

James Errington

He is now working with industrial illness lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to understand where he may have been exposed and if any steps were taken by employers to prevent him inhaling asbestos fibres.

James, who lives with his wife Olga, 69, worked for Wallsend Slipway Ship Repairers Ltd from 1969 to 1971, Swan Hunter Ship Repairers Tyne Ltd until 1972, and at Smiths Ship Repairers Company Ltd, which was later known as A&P Tyne Ltd, in North Shields and Wallsend from 1977 until his retirement in 2004.

James and his legal team are now appealing for his former colleagues at Smiths Ship Repairers Company Ltd to come forward with any information about.

Anyone who can help should contact Katie Faulds on (0191) 279 0142 or email Katie.Faulds@IrwinMitchell.com

James, a grandfather, said: “The diagnosis I received completely knocked me and my family for six.”

“We’ve all been struggling to come to terms with the news and that it may have been caused by my exposure to asbestos at work.

“I am worried about what the future holds for us and we all feel very angry and upset that we are going through this terrible time through no fault of my own.

“It wasn’t until later in my career that we were provided with masks to protect us from asbestos dust, but it looks like this was too late for me and I am now paying a high price for simply going to work every day to provide for my family.”

During his working life, James spent the majority of his time working alongside plumbers in the boiler room and engine rooms of ships, carrying out repairs to pipework which was lagged with asbestos.

James told his lawyers at Irwin Mitchell that the asbestos lagging would often break up when it was removed and release fibres and dust into the atmosphere where he would breathe it in.

He also recalls asbestos lagging being mixed close to him and that masks to prevent exposure to asbestos were only provided later in his employment at the company.

Roger Maddocks, a lawyer at Irwin Mitchell representing him, said: “James’ diagnosis came as a complete shock to him, his wife Olga and his entire family.

“Understandably, they are devastated and want to know why more was not done to prevent him inhaling harmful asbestos dust and fibres many years ago.

“All too often we see cases like James’ where people go through a great deal of pain and suffering as a result of a lack of protection and information about the risks of asbestos in the workplace.

“We would like to hear from anyone who was employed by Smiths Ship Repairers Company Ltd, those who recognise James or anyone who worked alongside him repairing ships from the late 1970s to the early 2000s so we can seek justice for him and his family.”