Dagenham man, 97, with mesothelioma appeals to ex-workmates to help possible compensation bid

Gerald Palmer is terminally ill with mesothelioma. Picture: Stuart Hughes

Gerald Palmer is terminally ill with mesothelioma. Picture: Stuart Hughes - Credit: Stuart Hughes

A former factory worker from Dagenham who is dying from an asbestos-related condition is appealing for his ex-work colleagues to help him in a possible legal bid for compensation.

Gerald Palmer, a great-grandfather who was an RAF engineer during the Second World War, is terminally ill with mesothelioma, a form of lung cancer commonly caused by asbestos exposure.

The 97-year-old wants to talk to former colleagues at Pritchett & Gold’s Dagenham plant to help establish facts about the manufacturing process, which he said involved asbestos.

Mr Palmer and his family are considering legal action following his diagnosis.

Pritchett & Gold were a well-known Dagenham employer who manufactured batteries for aircraft, submarines and the automotive industry.

Mr Palmer worked at the factory from 1938 to 1939 and again from 1947 to 1949 after the war.

He said: “The whole thing has come as a great shock to me as I have never had any major health concerns. It has left me feeling tired and I am suffering from increasing shortness of breath.”

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His son, John Palmer, said: “I put his breathlessness down to old age but then I noticed that I could hear him struggling for breath when he was just sitting in his chair.

“That was the fluid building up in his chest and he later had a litre drained from his lungs in hospital.

“I can’t recollect my dad ever being in hospital and he said to me he’s never been in hospital before. It is alien to him.”

According to the last figures released by Cancer Research UK, Mesothelioma claimed the lives on 2,567 in 2014.

Jan Garvey, from the National Asbestos Helpline, says: “Mesothelioma is a cruel and aggressive lung cancer.

It is devastating a generation of people who have worked hard all their lives.

“Not enough is being done by the government and insurance companies to help victims and their families and we need more funding for research into more effective treatments.”

Anyone familiar with the firm’s manufacturing process during the 1940s and 1950s can contact Helen Bradley in confidence on 0161 238 5637 or hxbradley@birchallblackburn.co.uk.