Cancer death of South Shields dad prompts appeal to find former workmates

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The former workmates of a marine fitter from South Tyneside are being asked for their help as an investigation into his death is launched.

Harry Weir, from South Shields, lost his fight with asbestos-related lung cancer in September - just three months after being diagnosed with the disease.

This case is sadly another reminder of the terrible impact that asbestos has had on so many lives,

Emma Crowther

Prior to his death, the 88-year-old had instructed specialist lawyers to investigate how he had developed the illness.

He wanted to find out where he had been exposed to the asbestos and whether more should have done to protect him.

Emma Crowther, a specialist asbestos lawyer at Irwin Mitchell’s Newcastle office, said: “This case is sadly another reminder of the terrible impact that asbestos has had on so many lives.”

She said the true consequences of exposure are often only seen many years later when serious illnesses develop.”

She said: “While Harry has sadly lost his battle with the cancer, his family remain desperate for answers over where he was exposed to asbestos and whether anything more should have been done to prevent this exposure.

“We believe he may well have come into contact with the material during his working life and would be grateful to hear from anyone who worked at the companies he was employed by.”

Mr Weir told solicitors he had worked at the former John Readhead and Sons and the Tyne Ship Repair Group Ltd and his role meant he was regularly exposed to dust and fibres.

His familyare appealing for anyone who worked with the father-of-four at either John Readhead and Sons from 1968 to 1981 or Tyne Ship Repair Group Ltd between 1981 and 1982 to come forward.

Betty Weir, who was married to Harry for 63 years, said: “Harry told the family on numerous occasions how he would tend to repairs and maintenance on ships. This meant he would often be inside engine rooms replacing a range of components including compressors and valves.

“He often talked about how asbestos tended to be present in pipework lagging. Removing the material meant that dust and fibres would be released into the air. He did this pretty much on a daily basis.

“While nothing can change what has happened to Harry, we feel we have a duty to discover whether more should have been done to protect him from harm and get answers regarding his illness.

“If anyone has information which might help that they could share with us, it would be gratefully received.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact Jennifer Fish at Irwin Mitchell’s Newcastle office on 0191 279 0119 or e-mail