We want closure: Family's appeal for answers over dad's lung cancer death

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A Brierfield family are appealing for information in their quest to uncover details surrounding their late father’s asbestos-related death.

After George Charlesworth’s death in November 2014 at the age of 79, a post-mortem revealed that he died of mesothelioma, an asbestos-related cancer which can take decades to manifest.

Sheila and George in the 1960s.

Sheila and George in the 1960s.

Following the discovery, which was made by the family’s solicitor, the Charlesworths have renewed their appeal for information from former colleagues of George’s, with his wife, Sheila, and daughter, Julie, gathering information to determine whether he was exposed to asbestos in the workplace.

“Its hard to find somebody who knew him,” said Julie (43). “The people who worked with him are probably dead as well; I hope that anyone who has information will come forward.”

Complications materialised when George was involved in a car accident in 2014 leading to him being put into care where he complained of back pain and suffered severe weight loss, which carers attributed to vascular dementia despite George's family insisting he had not suffered major memory loss.

After George passed away, a coroner found a “massive” tumour attached to the wall of his back which had remained unchecked, with George’s pain attributed to his injuries as opposed to his unknown lung cancer.

“It’s frustrating; nobody had checked it out and my dad had lung cancer,” Julie said. “He was a very active man but the disease made him very ill and we’re desperate to understand whether his death could’ve been prevented. It’s just proving it."

A joiner, George was born near the Gannow Top roundabout, going on to work across the country, including at Windsor Castle and Eton College doing restoration work. He also built the house on King’s Causeway in which Sheila (82) now lives and in which Julie was born.

“He was really hard working - set in his ways - but he loved joinery,” said Julie. “If neighbours wanted anything doing he was there saying ‘I’ll do it, I’ll do it’; he could fix anything.”

According to Inland Revenue, George worked for John McKenna on Foundry Street in Burnley between approximately 1970 and 1974, and on the basis of her discussions with him at the time, Sheila believes George was exposed to asbestos on a number of contracts during this period, including the refurbishment of the Springbank Adult Training Centre on West Street in Padiham and of shops on Hammerton Street.

Helen Ashton, a partner at the Manchester-based law firm Leigh Day, is representing the family, and said: “Mesothelioma is a devastating disease. As part of our investigation into George’s case, we’re appealing for information from any former colleagues about the places where George worked.”

Anyone with information can contact Helen Ashton on 01613 933 544 or email her at hashton@leighday.co.uk.