Former electrician appeals for ex-colleagues to help in compensation claim

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A former electrician is appeal for ex-work colleagues to get in touch after being diagnosed with cancer.

George Dowey Baxter, 80, from Whitley Bay, was diagnosed with asbestos-related mesothelioma in March.

The incurable cancer affects the lining of the lungs and develops as a result of exposure to harmful asbestos dust.

George, who has been getting help from solicitors at Irwin Mitchell, believes he was exposes to asbestos at five places during his employment history from 1951 to 1995 – F W Johnsons, Smith’s Dock Limited, Vickers Armstrong (Shipbuilders) Ltd, Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson Ltd, and Hotpoint Ltd.

George, who has been married to his wife Norma, 75, for 41 years, said: “My diagnosis came as a complete shock to me and I was angry and frustrated to find out that it was likely caused by my exposure to asbestos during my working life.

“At no point was I given any training or warned about the dangers of asbestos, or even provided with a mask.”

Anyone who remembers working with George or can provide information about the working conditions should contact Michael McGowan on (0191) 279 0104.

Alternatively email

George worked for F W Johnsons immediately after leaving school; employed as an apprentice electrician between 1951 and 1957.

When working on the sites, George recalls working alongside joiners who would use asbestos sheets to insulate doors.

After leaving F W Johnsons, George worked for Smith’s Dock Limited in 1957 at their shipyard in North Shields. George believes he was exposed to asbestos as the pipework and boilers aboard the ships were lagged with asbestos.

In between his employment with Smith’s Dock Limited, George worked for Vickers Armstrong (Shipbuilders) Limited at their Walker Naval Yard.

He believes he was exposed to asbestos when working on new build ships in the Naval Yard, as laggers aboard the ships would work alongside him lagging bulkheads, pipework and installing ceilings using asbestos.

It was working alongside laggers in the same manner as he did at Vickers Armstrong, that George believes he was exposed to asbestos when employed by Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson Limited at their Wallsend Shipyard in Tyne and Wear.

A final line of enquiry the legal team at Irwin Mitchell are keen to investigate is George’s employment at Hotpoint Limited, where he worked from 1964 until 1995.

George believes he was exposed to asbestos when replacing the clutches on Hotpoint top loader washing machines, as the linings may have contained asbestos.

George added: “The disease has already had a significant impact on my day-to-day life and I am concerned about what the future holds for me and my wife as my condition inevitably worsens.

“I urge any of my former colleagues from the companies mentioned to contact my legal team at Irwin Mitchell if they feel they can provide any details that can help this investigation and help my lawyers get justice for me and ensure those responsible for my exposure to asbestos are held to account.”

George was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2002, however remained generally healthy and would play golf up to four times a week.

However at the end of 2016 he began to notice symptoms of what he now knows to be mesothelioma.

Emma Tordoff, a solicitor and industrial disease specialist at Irwin Mitchell, said: “We are working with George in his fight for justice to find out how he was exposed to asbestos.

“Mesothelioma is incurable and its debilitating symptoms can only be treated temporarily. George and his wife are now suffering terribly, simply because he wasn’t adequately protected at work.”