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The family heartache of asbestos victims

PUBLISHED: 17:39 03 March 2008 | UPDATED: 10:51 11 August 2010

MOVING tales about the devastating affect that asbestos has had on the lives of normal people were heard at Barking Town Hall. A well-attended public meeting was put on by the Barking and Dagenham Asbestos Victims Support Group (BAD Asbestos) last Wednes

MOVING tales about the devastating affect that asbestos has had on the lives of normal people were heard at Barking Town Hall.

A well-attended public meeting was put on by the Barking and Dagenham Asbestos Victims' Support Group (BAD Asbestos) last Wednesday (February 27).

One man spoke movingly of how his mother had died from incurable Mesothelioma after contracting the disease from his overalls.

Others revealed how they and their loved ones had struggled to have their illnesses recognised as asbestos-related.

The event, chaired by Dagenham MP Jon Cruddas, was timed to coincide with National Action Mesothelioma day.

It started with good news as Mr Cruddas announced that BAD Asbestos has secured £10,000 of vital funding from the Primary Care Trust.

Jimmy Parish, Chairman of the Dagenham branch of GMB's Laggers' Union, told the meeting about the death and illness caused by the deadly dust among his colleagues.

He said 58 of their 380-strong membership had gone down with an asbestos-related disease in the last ten years, and 23 of them are now dead.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, as some victims have left the union, and others choose to cope alone.

One man committed suicide when his mesothelioma deteriorated. Mr Parish said: "His brother was a lagger too and he died the year before. He saw the condition he died in and felt his wife couldn't cope.

"He told me 'that won't happen to my wife'. When his condition got worse he hanged himself."

Ex-carpenter John Toweresey, 59, of Dartford, who was diagnosed with the disease in September 2003, told the audience how he copes by staying positive, eating healthily, and using complementary medicines.

He said: "I used to wear overalls and I would take them home for my mum to wash. Unfortunately she was diagnosed with mesothelioma 18 months before me.

"After she died the coroner told me she'd caught it from my overalls. I felt like I'd killed my own mother."

Other people spoke of their personal experiences, including one man who developed lung cancer after taking childhood boxing lessons at Barking's notorious Cape Asbestos Factory.

Maria Williams talked about her father Tim Glyne, who died of asbestosis in 1996 at the age of 80. He worked at Cape Asbestos for two years in the 1960s.

She said: "The doctor slammed his hand on the table and said 'he has not got asbestosis.' Three weeks later he was dead, and the post mortem proved that is what he died of."

For more information on BAD Asbestos, including free legal advice, visit www.badasbestos.org.uk or call (020) 8554 5192.

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