George Dickson has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the lung associated with asbestos exposure, often decades previously.
Following his diagnosis, the 74-year-old from Jarrow, instructed expert asbestos-related disease lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate how he was exposed to the hazardous material that is set to claim his life.
The father-of-one and his legal team are now appealing to ex-workers based at the former Consett Iron & Steel Company’s Jarrow Mill for information about conditions at the site.
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George was employed at the mill between 1963 and 1969.
Helen Jones, the specialist asbestos-related disease lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, representing George, said: “This is sadly yet another devastating case that highlights the shocking impact that asbestos can have and the terrible legacy it has left behind across the North East. This story is like so many we hear, with George developing an asbestos-related condition many years after exposure is thought to have taken place.
“Nothing will change what has happened, but we’re determined to ensure he gets the answers he deserves regarding how his illness developed.
“If anyone who worked with George or has information in general about conditions at Jarrow Mill, it could make all the difference to him and his family.”
George, started work for the Consett Iron & Steel Company aged 16 after leaving school.
He said: “I was employed as an apprentice fitter and turner. I was involved in general fitting and maintenance around the works and I believe asbestos was all around me.
“It’s my understanding that lagging on the boilers and auxiliary steam pipes around them may have contained asbestos. Lots of it was in a bad condition.
"Bits would drop off and fall on the floor and one of the big problems was the vibration caused by overhead cranes. The whole place would vibrate and dust would fall from above. I also remember having to climb over pipes sometimes and this would disturb lagging too.”
George, who has a daughter, Erin Dickson, 34, worked for several companies after leaving Consett Iron & Steel.
He later became self-employed running a number of businesses in Jarrow including the Artic Fresh Freezer Centre, World of Wine and The Video Centre.
George also owned and managed The Water’s Edge pub and restaurant on the cliff edge at Trow Lea between 1993 and 2002.
He started complaining of symptoms including shortness of breath in August. Following tests he was diagnosed with mesothelioma in October.
George added: “My diagnosis was a major bombshell. It’s hard to find the words to describe how it feels to be told you not only have cancer but there isn’t much that the doctors can do.
“I’ve tried to remain as positive as I can following my diagnosis but it’s difficult. I find that I’m now starting to struggle with a lot of things. I used to love gardening and would spend hours tending to it, whatever time of year but now it’s a real a struggle and I don’t really have the strength to keep on top of it.
“While I know nothing can turn the clock back I think that I’m at least owed an explanation as to how and why I was exposed to asbestos. I’d be so very grateful for any information that may help with that.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact Helen Jones at Irwin Mitchell on 0191 279 0043 or email [email protected]