Bury widow appeals to old workmates for memories of the asbestos which killed her husband

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The widow of a popular member of a works football team makes a final appeal to former teammates, to find out how he came into contact with the asbestos that killed him.

Ian Mitchell, aged 72, worked at Barber Greene in Bury St Edmunds between 1974 and 1985.

The firm was a major employer, shipping parts for road machinery. The workforce was a close-knit community and former members still have a busy media platforms, Ian was a popular figure in the firm and a regular in the football team. But in August 2018 he was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a lung cancer related to asbestos exposure and which is always fatal.

Asbestos was once used widely in cladding and insulation, but its dangers were recognised during the 1980s and it is now a banned substance. Lawyers working for Mr Mitchell’s family have established from other sources that asbestos was present at the Barber Greene works during that time, before its dangers were recognised.

Frances Mitchell has the right to sue for the illness that killed her husband. This is a statutory right and implies no fault by the company. But in order to press a claim, she needs to hear from anybody who can remember her husband and what work he did.

Although Mr Mitchell may have breathed in contaminated dust 30 or 40 years ago, mesothelioma usually takes at least two or three decades to develop.

Ian Mitchell

Now, his widow Frances is making a final appeal to former workmates who may remember the presence of asbestos to come forward. She has found an old photo of her husband in his football kit and hopes it might jog the memories of some of his former friends. Mrs Mitchell’s public appeal is being managed by her lawyer, asbestos specialist Phoebe Osborne of Ashtons Legal.

Phoebe explains: “We can be clear that Ian’s illness was caused by being in contact with asbestos dust during his working life. ‘Barber Greene seems the most likely place since we already know of the presence of asbestos in an unstable condition at the time he worked there. We know there was a roll of asbestos which they would cut bits off, and we need to know if Ian or others were involved in that work. We just need somebody to tell us they remember him and the working conditions they shared. I know there is still a strong sense of camaraderie locally among ex Barber Greene employees, so we’re hoping that somebody may remember his name or his picture, and be able to shed more light on the traqedy.”

Phoebe Osborne can be contacted at Phoebe.Osborne@ashtonslegal.co.uk or on 07483 928171.

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