Wiltshire widow fights for answers after husband’s asbestos related death

Posted on: 3 mins read
Anthony Waddington

Partner, Industrial Disease Claims

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Michael Bourke formerly worked for Pressed Steel Limited

The devastated family of a man who died from the asbestos related cancer mesothelioma have launched an appeal to discover when and how he came into contact with the deadly material, calling on his former work colleagues to come forward with any information.

Michael Bourke from Malmesbury, Wiltshire, was 80 when he tragically died in October 2020 shortly after receiving the shocking diagnosis at Great Western Hospital in Swindon.

A terminal illness that affects the lining of the lungs, mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos, which often happens decades before any symptoms appear.

Michael is remembered by his family as a loving husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather.

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Following his death, they instructed industrial disease lawyers at Simpson Millar to investigate when and where he was exposed to asbestos, and whether more could have been done to protect him.

They are now appealing to anyone who may have worked alongside him at Pressed Steel Company Limited – a Swindon car body manufacturing plant - where he worked from 1965 to 1969 on the assembly line making car panels.

Speaking before his death, Michael had said that he had believed there was asbestos lagging on the pipework within the factory and that was regularly disturbed by maintenance workers working on the pipes.

He also recalled that the factory had been dusty, and despite the presence of asbestos he was not told to wear face mask or warned of the dangers of exposure and no precautions were taken to protect employees from asbestos dust released by the maintenance works.

There are a number of reported asbestos-related cancer compensation claims against Pressed Steel Company Limited on behalf of other former workers, and the family’s lawyer, Anthony Waddington of Simpson Millar, said there was likely to be more cases against the company in the coming years.

Speaking after Michael’s death his wife, Rosemary, said: “We are still trying to come to terms with Michael’s death. He had been unwell for some time, but the diagnosis of mesothelioma just before he died came as a real shock.

“To think his illness was caused by exposure to asbestos is devastating, and to lose him in the height of the pandemic, when there were a lot of restrictions around funerals and hospital visits, was particularly hard.

“He was such a loving person, and he will be greatly missed by us all.”

The family’s solicitor, Anthony Waddington from Simpson Millar’s industrial disease team, is now appealing for witnesses on the family’s behalf. He said: “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.

“The family are now desperate for answers as to where and when he encountered the deadly dust, and we would really like the opportunity to speak to anyone who worked at Pressed Steel Limited between 1965 and 1969 about anything they remember during this time.”

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 and this is a figure that continues to increase and devastate 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 0800 260 5010

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