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'He just hoped he would be one of the lucky ones. We were all devastated that he wasn’t'
The family of a former Watford joiner, who died of an asbestos-related cancer, are asking former colleagues to come forward with further information.
Grandfather-of-eight Michael Wareham, who lived in Rickmansworth, died of mesothelioma, a cancer in the lining of the lungs caused by inhaling asbestos dust, in May 2010, aged 73.
He claimed he was regularly exposed to the dust when he worked at the Watford Timber Co Ltd in the 1950s and 1960s as a joiner and machinist, cutting asbestos sheets. Years later, when he learned of the dangers of the material, he told his family he hoped he would be one of the lucky ones, but unfortunately they were left heartbroken.
Before his death, Michael instructed industrial illness experts at Irwin Mitchell, and the firm is appealing to Michael’s former colleagues at the Watford Timber Co Ltd to get in touch as they may hold further information about the use of asbestos and working conditions there.
Shaheen Mosquera, an asbestos expert at Irwin Mitchell’s London office, said: "Michael’s family have been left devastated by his death. Michael worked at the Watford Timber Company from 1951 to 1955, had a two-year break while he did his national service, and then returned in 1956 where he remained until 1963.
"We’d like to hear from any of his former colleagues, as they may have further details about the company’s working practices.
"Mesothelioma is an aggressive disease for which there is sadly no cure and which devastates families"
Michael developed breathlessness in April 2009 and a couple of months later doctors gave him the devastating news he was suffering from mesothelioma. He died just over a year later and a coroner recorded a verdict of industrial disease, death caused by malignant mesothelioma, at an inquest in June 2010.
His son, Carl, 50, from Rickmansworth, said: "My dad was a very active man who was massively into sport until he became so ill. It was so hard to watch him struggle in the months before his death. He always lived life to the full and became a shadow of his former self.
"He knew he had been exposed to asbestos when he worked at the Watford Timber Co and years later, when he learned how dangerous the material can be, he said he just hoped he would be one of the lucky ones. We were all devastated that he wasn’t.”
Carl continued: "He was such a good father and grandfather but until we have answers we can’t come to terms with his death. I just hope anyone who remembers working with my dad gets in touch."
Anyone who thinks they can help should contact Shaheen Mosquera on 0870 1500 100 or email Shaheen.email@example.com.