A SOUTH Tyneside pensioner exposed to deadly dust as an office boy more than 60 years ago has won “substantial” six-figure compensation after developing fatal asbestos cancer.
Sep Boulter, 78, was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the lungs, in December last year.
Experts say the roots of his terminal condition can be traced back to his time as a 15-year-old office boy at the former Mercantile Dry Dock Company in Jarrow, in 1949, and was exposed to asbestos fibres.
The dad-of-four, grandfather and great-grandfather, had complained to his GP about breathlessness before he was diagnosed with the fatal disease late last year.
After his diagnosis, he instructed asbestos claims experts Thompsons Solicitors for advice about compensation against his former employers.
Mr Boulter, of Shakespeare Avenue, Hebburn, said: “I was amazed when they traced the asbestos back to when I was an office boy. But I used to do my rounds at the Mercantile, including going on the ships, where there was no protection from asbestos.
“I was surprised at the compensation I received – but I’d rather have my health.
“I would advise anyone who thinks they have a case to submit a claim.”
Ruth Boulter, 74, Sep’s wife of 55 years, said her husband had not been admitted to hospital in his life before starting to suffer from breathlessness last November.
Mr Boulter was never warned of the dangers of asbestos by his employers or provided with any protection.
He decided to claim compensation to ensure his family is provided for in the future. Thompsons Solicitors secured substantial damages in an out-of-court settlement from his former employers.
Mr Boulter said: “It is difficult to believe that I am suffering from a condition caused by exposure to asbestos when I was in my teens and early twenties.
“When I first began to feel breathless, I put it down to getting older.
I never dreamed I would be suffering from something like this.
“My family have been a tremendous support over the last few months, and it was important for me to know that my wife will be looked after financially in the future.
“This compensation brings some peace of mind in that respect.”
Tony Hood, of Thompsons Solicitors, said: “Mr Boulter was exposed to asbestos when he was just 15. At the time, he had no idea he was working in an area where asbestos was being used, and was never warned by his employer that his health could be at risk.
“It was important for him to know that the compensation claim would be concluded in his lifetime.
“Not only has this ensured that his family will be financially secure, it also provides much-needed practical support at a very difficult time.”