Successful claim against cape asbestos after 'snowball fights'


A woman has successfully claimed compensation against Cape Asbestos in Bowburn, Durham, after being diagnosed with terminal mesothelioma, a rare cancer caused by asbestos poisoning.

Asbestos Mesothelioma

Fatal dust everywhere

Caroline Wilcock, a 51-year-old fashion designer, used to live near the Cape Asbestos plant in Bowburn, County Durham. During her childhood, Caroline and the other children used to play in the street.

The difference for the children of Bowburn was that asbestos dust from the plant frequently settled on window-sills and cars. As a result 'snowball fights' using this dust were common. Other children played with the asbestos in different ways, even using it as an alternative to chalk.

Speaking to the press Miss Wilcock said, "I feel I had a responsibility to the community I grew up in to pursue my claim and to now talk about it publicly."

Unaware of the risks

Now that the public is aware of the dangers of asbestos, it is shocking to think that a company would allow the dust to saturate a village. However, this awareness is all too late for Caroline, who is now terminally ill.

It often takes around 40 years to get cancer after being exposed to asbestos. After asbestos fibres are inhaled, they irritate the lungs for years and years and over time, the damage is done.

Emma Costin head of industrial disease at Simpson Millar comments:

"Whilst there can be no compensation for loss of life or a loved one, I have always regarded it as a marker that we live in a civilised society, that by law, insurance must be put in place to pay out compensation to victims and their families should they be struck down by an asbestos related disease."

The different types of asbestos poisoning include:

  • Asbestosis
  • Plural plaques
  • Mesothelioma
  • Lung cancer

Putting things right after a mesothelioma diagnosis

Caroline was able to get compensation due to being exposed to asbestos. Emma Costin head of industrial disease at Simpson Millar explains:

"The HSE statistics indicate that asbestos is either directly responsible for or strongly implicated in the deaths of over 4,000 men and women each year, that represents a third of all workplace related deaths. These figures are truly shocking and a reminder of the deadly legacy of the widespread use of asbestos in the 20th century. If you or a loved one have recently been diagnosed with an asbestos disease they should contact an independent solicitor for advice. Asbestos was known to be highly dangerous for many years, yet employers and the government have routinely turned a blind eye."

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