Grandmother diagnosed with terminal lung cancer in appeal to retired Burnley workers

Elizabeth Black believes she wasexposed to asbestos during the 1960s while working in Burnley.
Elizabeth Black believes she wasexposed to asbestos during the 1960s while working in Burnley.
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A grandmother-of-five diagnosed with terminal lung cancer claims it is the result of working for a number of firms in Burnley in the 1960s.

Elizabeth Black (70), who believes the mesothelioma has been caused by past exposure to asbestos dust and fibres, is in the process of making an industrial disease compensation claim to help with her health needs.

Russell Black worked for Michelin Tyres in Burnley during the early 1970s and may have taken asbestos fibres home to his wife, Elizabeth.

Russell Black worked for Michelin Tyres in Burnley during the early 1970s and may have taken asbestos fibres home to his wife, Elizabeth.

Acting on her behalf, law firm Birchall Blackburn Law is asking for anybody who worked alongside Mrs Black during the 1960s to come forward to help assist with her case

Mrs Black worked for John Wallace printing, previously Veevers & Hensman, in Parliament Street from 1966 to 1968 as a receptionist.

She was employed as a post girl at Joseph Lucas between 1965 and 1966 at its Wood Top and Hargher Clough factories.

And from 1967 to 1968 she was a receptionist for Gretna Laboratories in Rosendale Road. In her role for all of these companies she delivered mail and messages daily across the factory premises and could have been exposed to asbestos.

Mrs Black believes she may also have been exposed to asbestos dust from her husband’s work clothes.

Russell Black worked for Michelin Tyres in Burnley during the early 1970s. He was a controller in the vulcanisation area and assisted maintenance gangs during factory shutdown periods as a cleaner.

Mother-of-three Mrs Black said: “I have not felt well since about 2016 onwards. I noticed that I was suffering with shortness of breath. I thought high blood pressure and asthma was causing my breathlessness; it was a terrible shock to be told it was actually asbestos dust and fibres.

“Now I suffer from severe shortness of breath. If I walk anywhere I quickly tire and become breathless. I am able to manage stairs, but I have to do so in my own time using the hand rails to steady myself.

“Since the onset of my shortness of breath my mood has been low and both I and my family have found my diagnosis difficult to come to terms with. Should there be any treatment available for my condition then I would want to have this. I want as much time with my family as possible.”

Victoria Roberts, an asbestos-disease specialist solicitor with Birchall Blackburn Law, says: “Can you help Elizabeth and her family? We need your memories. Did you work for John Wallace printing, previously Veevers & Hensman, or Joseph Lucas in the Wood Top and Hargher Clough factories, or Gretna Laboratories? What were your working conditions like? Where did you see asbestos used? Were you provided with breathing masks? Did you have to disturb the asbestos to do your job?

“We would also like to trace any former maintenance staff from Michelin Tyres in Burnley who might be able to confirm the nature of the maintenance work Elizabeth’s husband, Russell, undertook and the products used.

“Mesothelioma takes 10 to 50 years to develop in the lungs after exposure to asbestos airborne fibres. After such a long time it’s difficult to find out where and when the asbestos exposure happened, which is why we need Burnley’s retired workers to help? If we can’t uncover those memories then there is a real danger of injustice for Elizabeth and her family, devastated by the legacy of asbestos.”

The Department of Work and Pensions says that 53,000 people will eventually die from mesothelioma between 2013 and 2037 in the UK. According to the Health and Safety Executive, more than 2,500 people a year die from mesothelioma.

Anyone who knows about the presence of asbestos at John Wallace printing, previously Veevers & Hensman, Joseph Lucas in the Wood Top and Hargher Clough factories, Gretna Laboratories or Michelin Tyres in Burnley during the 1960s and 1970s, can call Victoria Roberts from Birchall Blackburn Law on 01244 688 763 or email varoberts@birchallblackburn.co.uk. Details will remain confidential.