A retired factory worker is appealing for help from former colleagues after she was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
Freda Simpson, 78, from Washington, was told she has the mesothelioma disease in June after suffering with chest pains and breathlessness.
My mesothelioma diagnosis was a complete shock to me and the symptoms of the disease have had a huge impact on my life.Freda Simpson
She has now instructed lawyers to investigate how and where she was exposed to the harmful dust and fibres that caused her to develop mesothelioma.
She believes she may have been exposed while working for the Co-Operative Wholesale Society (CWS) at the firm’s shirt and pyjama factory at Bill Quay in Pelaw where she was based from 1955 to 1959.
The mum-of-two, who worked as a sewing machinist, recalls asbestos lagged pipework running throughout the factory, which helped to power the steam presses.
She recalled the factory being very dusty and that her and her colleagues would breathe in dust throughout the day.
Now Freda, backed by her legal team at Irwin Mitchell, is appealing to any of her former colleagues at Co-Operative Wholesale Society (CWS) to come forward with information on the presence of asbestos at the factory and what steps, if any, were taken to prevent workers being exposed to the material.
Roger Maddocks, a partner and expert asbestos-related disease lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, representing the family, said: “Mesothelioma is a terrible disease that kills around 2,500 people in the UK every year.
“All too often we see cases like Freda’s where those exposed to asbestos decades ago are now suffering a significant amount of pain, but were unaware of the dangers of asbestos at the time.
“For decades the dangers of asbestos dust and fibres have been well known yet we continue to be instructed by people who have been diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases and they understandably want answers about how they were exposed to the substance and not given more protection.
“We hope Freda’s former colleagues will come forward and provide the crucial information we need to help her understand how and why she was exposed to the dust and fibres that caused her to develop this terrible and debilitating condition.”
Freda said: “My mesothelioma diagnosis was a complete shock to me and the symptoms of the disease have had a huge impact on my life.
“My breathlessness has worsened and I struggle to walk any distance without gasping for breath, which means I have been housebound for several months.
“I now rely heavily on my husband David for help around the house and with everyday tasks and I’m worried about what the future holds for me and David.
“To find out that my mesothelioma may have been caused by my exposure to asbestos during my working life just added insult to injury and I’m determined to get answers about why I was never warned of the danger of asbestos.
“Hopefully, my former colleagues will come forward with the information I need so those responsible for my exposure to asbestos will be held to account.”
Anyone with information on the presence of asbestos at Co-Operative Wholesale Society (CWS) should contact Emma Tordoff on 0191 279 0104 or email Emma.Tordoff@IrwinMitchell.com.