Essex family fights for answers after father’s asbestos related death

Posted on: 4 mins read
Anthony Waddington

Partner, Industrial Disease Claims

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John Wellby worked in London as a Carpenter and Joiner throughout his career.

The heartbroken family of a man who died from an asbestos related cancer have spoken out about their loss in the hope that people will come forward with information about when and where he may have been exposed to asbestos whilst working as a joiner and carpenter in the London and Essex areas. 

John Wellby from Chigwell, Essex, was 82 when he passed away on 23rd August 2022, just months after his health started to decline resulting in significant weight loss and difficulties breathing.

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Medical Diagnosis and Family Reaction

A retired carpenter and joiner, the father of 2 had been under the care of both his GP and Newham General Hospital at the time of his death, receiving treatment for his symptoms, including having his lungs drained of excess fluid caused by the disease. 

While doctors at the time suggested that he may be suffering from lung cancer, a later scan confirmed he had mesothelioma - a terminal illness that affects the lining of the lungs which is caused exclusively by exposure to asbestos, which often happens decades before any symptoms occur.

Speaking to the consultant just hours before his death, Mr Wellby confirmed that he had regularly come into contact with asbestos throughout his career. However, the diagnosis came as a shock to his family who were unaware of the danger of asbestos dusts and fibre.


Legal Action and Call for Information

After he passed away, the family instructed Industrial Disease lawyers at Simpson Millar to investigate when and where he may have been exposed, and whether more could have been done to protect him. The firm is now appealing for information from anyone who may have worked alongside Mr. John Wellby, particularly between 1956 – 1975.

Between these dates John was employed by various companies in the Barking, Stratford, and Dagenham Areas as a cabinet maker and a shop fitter, working on projects including shop fit outs for high street brands such as Etam/Tammy Girl and the Co-op, and even at the Bull Ring in Birmingham. 

His National insurance records shows that during this time he worked for various building and joinery businesses, including CWS (Building) Limited, Manor Joinery Works, Doric Shopfitting, Douglas Grant and Partners, Beck Pollitzer (contracts), Courtney & Fairbarn, Modern Joinery Limited, J F Nott Limited, Briwin Shopfitting Co, Coronet Shopfitters & Joinery, Store Development, Beuforth Property and Supplies , W J Cearns, J & R Rooff, Thomas Bates & Son Limited, H Firmin & Son, Biss Bros, Harry Cripps, Doughty & Wellby Limited.

Commenting on the death of her brother and his mesothelioma diagnosis Mr. Wellby’s sister says the family is  ‘truly devastated’ by their loss, and that they are ‘desperate to better understand the circumstances surrounding his exposure’.

Josphine Wellby, said: “It was extremely difficult to watch the decline in John’s health. The illness seemed to take a hold of him very quickly and he died just months after his symptoms first started.

“To learn, just days before he passed away, that he had been suffering from mesothelioma which is a cancer linked to asbestos exposure was heartbreaking. All of our focus then was on making sure he was comfortable and looked after, but we have been left with so many questions.

“The nature of the work that dad did means he wasn’t based a single place of employment. He was regularly on the move, working on shop fitting projects for various different employers in different locations. 

“We would therefore be incredibly grateful to anyone who remembers working with him during his career or at any of the above companies to come forward with information, no matter how limited.”

The family’s Solicitor, Anthony Waddington from Simpson Millar’s industrial disease team, added: “Mesothelioma is a truly awful disease which causes a lot of pain for the victim, as well as resulting in much heartache for the families as it often acts quickly in bringing about a person’s death only months after symptoms first appear. 

“Mr. Wellby’s family feel particularly in the dark about where and when he may have been exposed to asbestos as he sadly passed away shortly after his diagnosis and didn’t have the time to identify where he had been exposed”. 

“We would really like the opportunity to speak to anyone who worked with John Wellby between 1956 and 1975 when he worked on various projects as a cabinet maker and shop fitter at the companies listed above, about anything they remember during this time of the work and exposure to asbestos.”  


The Impact of Asbestos and Public Appeal

Sadly, workplace negligence regarding employee exposure to asbestos continues to have a devastating impact on the lives of thousands of people every year.  

Anthony added: “Mesothelioma alone contributes to roughly 2,500 deaths annually causing devastation to the lives of victims as well as their families.  

“While the dangers of asbestos have been known for many decades there are still, sadly, many people dying prematurely because of related illnesses, because they were not made aware of its presence and were not provided with protective equipment.” 

If you have any information, please contact Anthony Waddington at Simpson Millar on [email protected], or on 0345 357 9200.  

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Anthony Waddington

Partner, Industrial Disease Claims

Areas of Expertise:
Industrial Disease

Anthony is a Partner in our Industrial Disease department and specialises in high value Industrial Disease Claims.

He joined Simpson Millar as a Paralegal in 2006, and completed his training contract three years later, working in Simpson Millar's Industrial Disease, Civil Litigation and Personal Injury departments.

References: (2024). Asbestos Claims & Asbestos Compensation | Asbestos Solicitors. [online] Available at: [Accessed 24 Apr. 2024]. (2019). Anthony Waddington | Partner | Industrial Disease | Simpson Millar Solicitors. [online] Available at: [Accessed 24 Apr. 2024].

Anon, (n.d.). Mesothelioma National Statistics | Mesothelioma UK. [online] Available at: [Accessed 24 Apr. 2024].

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