The widow of a former Rolls Royce engineer who died just weeks after receiving a devastating asbestos-related cancer diagnosis has today issued an appeal for his ex-colleagues to come forward with information about the condition of his workplace.
Brian Jaques from Bulkington, Warwickshire, was just 16 years’ old when he started working in the automotive industry; taking on an apprenticeship with car manufacturer Bristol Siddeley Engines – which was bought by Rolls Royce in 1966, where he continued to work for his entire adult life.
He joined the firm, which was initially based in Parkside, Coventry, before it moved to Ansty, Leicestershire, in 1987; immediately after leaving school in 1957.
Brian carried out work on a production line for the popular Sunbeam car before qualifying as a radiographer within the Marine and Industrial Division following the company’s merger with Rolls Royce in 1966, retiring in 2000 following a long and successful career.
In August 2017, seventeen years after taking retirement, Brian become unwell at his home in Pembrokeshire. Within weeks his condition had deteriorated rapidly and Brian sadly passed away in October 2017.
Brian underwent treatment at Withybush Hospital, Haverfordwest, and was diagnosed with mesothelioma - an incurable cancer that develops gradually over time, with symptoms typically appearing several decades after exposure to asbestos.
Widow and next of kin, Jean Jaques, has instructed expert Industrial Disease Lawyers at Simpson Millar to investigate the workplace conditions that Brian would have been exposed to that resulted in his diagnosis, and subsequent death, of the asbestos-related cancer.
Jean Jaques and Simpson Millar are now appealing to anyone else who was also employed by Bristol Siddeley Engines at the same time to come forward and offer descriptions of the conditions in the factory in the years leading up to and after the 1950s/60s.
Jean believes that exposure to the deadly fibres occurred between 1957 and 1961 whilst Brian was working as an apprentice at the company, where he spent much of his time fitting brakes to new vehicles on the production line.
Following on from his apprenticeship, Brian’s role as a radiographer saw him experience regular exposure to radiation.
Speaking of her husband’s illness, Jean commented, “Brian first became ill towards the end of August 2017 and suspected that it was simply backache. In the weeks following this, his condition deteriorated rapidly and on 12 September 2017 he attended A&E at Withybush Hospital with pain and shortness of breath.
“Unable to return home due to the level of care required, Brian underwent tests and had fluid drained from his lungs before being transferred to South Pembrokeshire Hospital where he was cared for until his death, two weeks later.
“It’s now been over a year since Brian’s death and I’m still looking for the answers as to how and why the exposure to asbestos occurred.”
Prior to becoming ill, Jean described Brian as being “very fit and healthy”, helping to care for their young grandson and completing DIY projects around their house to keep himself busy.
Gavin Evans, an Industrial Disease Lawyer at Simpson Millar added, “Mesothelioma is responsible for around 2,500 deaths annually – a figure that continues to increase and devastate the lives of victims as well as their families.
“We now hope to speak to more witnesses who worked at Bristol Siddeley Engines during the 1950s and 1960s to gain an understanding of the working conditions and relevant safety procedures that were in place at the time to protect staff from exposure to the harmful dust and fibres.
“We hope to provide Jean and her family with answers to exactly when and why the exposure to asbestos occurred so that they can seek closure on the tragedy.”
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