Former Ford Dagenham worker’s plea after asbestos cancer diagnosis

Stephen Goodwright. Picture: HJA

Stephen Goodwright. Picture: HJA - Credit: HJA

A former Ford Dagenham worker who was diagnosed with an asbestos-related cancer is calling on ex-colleagues to get checked out if they experience health issues.

The Ford Dagenham factory pictured in 1972, shortly before Stephen Goodwright began working there. Picture: PA Archive

The Ford Dagenham factory pictured in 1972, shortly before Stephen Goodwright began working there. Picture: PA Archive - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Stephen Goodwright, 67, worked in the motor plant’s Thames foundry as a maintenance fitter between 1975 and 1985, where his role involved replacing large asbestos gaskets which would break up when removed.

But it wasn’t until last year, when he began to suffer from a shortness of breath, that he was diagnosed with mesotheliomia - a cancer caused by inhaled asbestos fibres which forms in the lining of the lungs, abdomen or heart.

Stephen, who now lives in Walderslade, Kent, said: “I always knew I’d had some exposure to asbestos during my time at Ford, but you never think it’s going to happen to you.

“Before my diagnosis, I’d barely even heard of mesothelioma, and yet thousands of people across the UK are living with this cancer, many undiagnosed.

“I’m urging anyone who worked for Ford, as well as others who worked in similar environments, to consult a doctor if they have symptoms such as unexplained breathlessness. It doesn’t even bear thinking about what might have happened if I didn’t.”

After his diagnosis, Stephen joined the London asbestos support awareness group, which helped him pursue a claim for compensation.

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“I was truly shocked and horrified by the extent of that exposure when people who I worked alongside provided witness evidence about their own exposure to the asbestos dust,” he said.

He described receiving specialist legal support as “invaluable in my fight for justice”, with the settlement ensuring that any private healthcare required as part of his treatment would be funded by Ford.

Stephen added: “While none of this takes away the mesothelioma condition, it gives me the opportunity to both warn and support others who might be in a similar situation.”

A Ford spokesperson said the company did not discuss individual cases but that it has settled a number of claims “relating to ex-employees who worked at Dagenham during the 1960s to 1980s, when the risks over exposure to asbestos were far less understood than in subsequent years”.

The spokesperson added: “It remains Ford’s top priority to ensure the safety and well-being of our people, and we have in place extensive systems to ensure we take all necessary safety precautions when dealing with potentially hazardous materials in the workplace.”