Halifax family appeal for help following dad’s death from asbestos related cancer

The family of a former maintenance painter from Halifax is making a heartfelt plea to his former work colleagues for information following his death from asbestos-related disease.

Thursday, 11th November 2021, 1:04 pm
Kenneth Shaw

Kenneth Shaw who lived in Halifax, West Yorkshire, died in 2020, age 76, months after he was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the lung associated with exposure to asbestos, often decades previously.

Following Kenneth’s death, his widow, Jean, 74, instructed specialist asbestos-related disease lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate his illness and if it was linked to his work history.

Jean and her two daughters, Karen Shaw and Julie Goodwin, have now joined their legal team in appealing to former workmates who remember Kenneth from his time as a forklift truck driver and painter at John Crossley and Sons Ltd in Halifax to come forward with information. Kenneth worked at the site from 1967 to 1969.

Kenneth and his wife Jean

Ian Toft, the asbestos-related disease expert at Irwin Mitchell supporting the family, said: “Kenneth started to investigate his asbestos exposure in 2018, but following his death, his family has renewed these efforts to find the answers on his behalf.

“Kenneth’s wife and daughters are understandably devastated by the manner of his death and are keen to hear from anyone who worked with Kenneth at Crossley’s or who has knowledge of the working conditions there.

“Any information about how Kenneth may have been exposed to asbestos during his employment could prove vital to the investigation and provide the family with the answers they deserve.”

A Halifax man born and bred, Kenneth attended Midgley Primary in Hebden Bridge and Calder High in Mytholmoryd, before leaving age 15.

Kenneth was 24 when he went to work for John Crossley and Sons Ltd - known as Crossley’s - in 1967. Initially working as a forklift truck driver in the Elizabeth Shed in Shroggs Road - where B&Q is today - he soon changed roles to become a maintenance painter until 1969.

This new role involved painting the machines in the dye house and according to Kenneth before he died, this involved working in close proximity to pipes covered in asbestos lagging. He also remembered working in the vicinity of other workers repairing and maintaining the pipes.

Kenneth married Jean on 2 April, 1966, and they had two daughters, who both have families of their own.

Kenneth began to notice the symptoms of mesothelioma in September 2017. A chest infection led to pneumonia and admission to hospital. After being discharged, Kenneth saw his GP at the end of the year with breathlessness and a series of investigations followed. These required multiple hospital admissions, before he received the devastating diagnosis on 5 July, 2018.

The symptoms of mesothelioma had a profound effect on Kenneth’s quality of life. He found he was unable to walk his dog anymore and needed to use a wheelchair when he wanted to go out.

At home, Kenneth could no longer help Jean with the housework and found it difficult to sleep. As a painter, Kenneth had always decorated at home, but found that he could no longer do so.

The nature of his symptoms also meant that dream family holidays Jean and Kenneth had planned to take together, to Tenerife in 2017 and Majorca in 2018, both had to be cancelled.

Speaking on behalf of the family, Jean said: “Kenneth was always such a fit man, so we didn’t think much of the first onset of symptoms. When they were diagnosed as mesothelioma, it came as a massive shock to us – we’d never heard of the illness before.

“Kenneth immediately sought legal advice and was determined to discover the truth. Following his death, we sought Irwin Mitchell’s help in discovering how he came to be exposed to asbestos.

“Kenneth was a wonderful husband, father and grandfather and didn’t deserve to be robbed of the remaining years of his life in this terrible way. If anyone out there does remember Kenneth and Crossley’s and could tell us what they know, it would mean so much to us all. Karen remembers visiting there when she was a child and recalls it being dusty and dirty.”

Anyone with information that may assist with the case is asked to contact Ian Toft in the Leeds office of Irwin Mitchell, on 0113 2186453 or at [email protected]