Family appeal for information over Sunderland-born man’s cancer death

John Irwin.

John Irwin.

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The family of a retired painter and decorator who died after suffering from asbestos-related cancer have appealed for his former workmates to come forward with vital information as they seek answers regarding his illness.

John Irwin, 74, who was born in Sunderland and lived in Loughborough when he died, was informed by medical experts in October 2015 that he had developed mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the lung caused by exposure to asbestos.

Following his diagnosis, Mr Irwin instructed lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to begin investigations into how he came into contact with the deadly material.

He sadly died before the case could be resolved, but his widow is now taking up the legal battle on his behalf.

Now, as part of the firm’s investigations, they are keen to hear from anyone who worked with him at LW Evans (Contractors) Ltd as they seek to understand where and when he was exposed to asbestos.

During his time at the company, from 1968-1969, he spent time painting the interior and exterior of new homes in Washington.

Adrian Budgen, the partner and national head of asbestos litigation at Irwin Mitchell who is representing Mr Irwin’s widow Doreen, said: “Mesothelioma is an extremely aggressive and, sadly, incurable form of cancer.

“Unfortunately, we see hundreds of cases every year in which people have developed very serious illnesses as a result of exposure to asbestos many decades ago.

“Through our work on behalf of John and his family, we are keen to gain an understanding of his work history and specifically the working conditions and safety measures in place during the two years he worked for Sunderland-based LW Evans.

“We would be hugely grateful if other tradesmen or colleagues who worked alongside John, who have information on the presence of asbestos, would come forward.

“Any detail, no matter how small, could prove vital in our efforts to help John’s widow get the answers she deserves regarding his illness.”

Mrs Irwin, 68, who lives near Loughborough, in Leicestershire, said: “Before he died, John told us he worked on both the inside and outside of the new homes built in Washington and spent time painting gutters, drainpipes, soffit boards, fascias, internal walls, ceilings and cupboards in the two years at the company.

“John remembered working alongside a lot of other tradesmen, including joiners, who spent time cutting soffits and fascias.

“Asbestos was commonly used in those days and he said there was always a great deal of dust being released during the work.

“His death was devastating for us. His mesothelioma developed very quickly and it had a huge impact on his daily life in just a short space of time.

“He was only diagnosed around a year ago and sadly he is no longer with us.

“He missed seeing his two great grandchildren who have been born this year.

“We just want to know how this came to happen and ask that if anyone can provide more information on this it would be a great help for our legal team.”

Anyone with information about the working conditions at LW Evans should contact Adrian Budgen at Irwin Mitchell on 0114 274 4420 or email: Adrian.Budgen@IrwinMitchell.com.