Witness Appeal: Use of Asbestos at JS Samuel White & Co Shipyard

The family of a former boiler maker who died of the asbestos related cancer mesothelioma has today issued an appeal for information relating to the conditions at the ship builders where he worked as part of their ongoing battle for answers.

An active, independent man until shortly before his death in April 2019, Derek John Tutton moved to the Isle of White with his family as a young lad, before taking up an apprenticeship as a boiler maker when he was 16.

Working for shipbuilder JS Samuel White & Co Shipyard, Derek was responsible for a number of tasks including packing asbestos around the boilers to retain the heat. He remained with the company until the early 1960s when he returned to the mainland.

His son Alex is now urging people who worked at the company throughout the 1950s, 60s and 70s to come forward with vital information about the working conditions and the presence of asbestos at the shipbuilders in a bid to determine whether more could have been done to protect him from the exposure to asbestos.

He has now instructed leading Industrial Disease Solicitors at Simpson Millar to help in their battle for answers.

The call to action comes after an Inquest in February found that Derek had suffered an industrial death, with his lung cancer having been caused or contributed to by his past asbestos exposure in his employment.

Speaking to his family before his death, Derek recalled that he regularly worked with asbestos whilst at JS Samuel White & Co Shipyard when he was making the boilers.  

Remembering his father at the time of his diagnosis, Alex recalls, “Dad was very tolerant of all of his symptoms and he just accepted everything as it happened. But before long his condition deteriorated, and he found it increasingly difficult to catch his breath.

“It was devastating to watch. Dad had always been an incredibly independent person and active throughout his entire life. All I could do was watch on as he lost so much of himself.

“Further to the Inquest, I am desperate to determine whether more could have been done to protect him from this horrendous illness, and I would be incredibly grateful if anybody who worked at the shipbuilders in the 1950s, 60s and 70s could come forward with any information about the working conditions.”

The family’s Solicitor Anthony Waddington, who specialises in asbestos claims said, “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 are now appealing for witnesses who worked alongside Derek at JS Samuel White & Co Shipyard to come forward so that we can determine how and when he was exposed to asbestos.

“His family are understandably desperate for answers and hope that this process will help to give them a sense of closure.”                       

If you have any information regarding this case, please contact Anthony Waddington on 0808 129 3320 or request as callback using the form below.

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