A former wheelchair sports star is seeking help from former colleagues after discovering he has asbestos related cancer.
Joseph Lawrence MBE, from Bradford, worked at Huddersfield firms Foster Wheeler Ltd from 1968 to 1970 and chemical firm LB Holliday and Co in the late 1970s.
Joseph, 71, who also worked for the North Eastern Gas Board, was diagnosed with mesothelioma last year, a terminal cancer caused by exposure to asbestos.
He has instructed specialist lawyers to investigate whether more could have been done by his employers to protect him.
The 71-year-old was paralysed in 1984 when he fell from a balcony at a block of Bradford flats.
He lost the use of his legs, but went on to win a gold medal at Britain’s National Wheelchair Championships in 1986. He also took a national spinal injuries javelin title at the Seoul Olympics in 1988.
In 2001 he was awarded an MBE for services to wheelchairs sports.
His legal team is now appealing to any of his former colleagues to come forward with any information to help secure justice for him.
Joseph said: “My wife Jean and I were shocked and devastated by my diagnosis and are struggling to come to terms with it.
“I have always been fit and healthy throughout my life and enjoyed an active lifestyle.
“I never knew that the work that I did so many years about would affect my life now.
“I really hope that my former work colleagues will now help the team at Irwin Mitchell to give any information about the conditions that I worked in so my family and I can get the justice that I deserve.”
During his working life at Foster Wheeler Limited, Joseph’s daily tasks included welding and cleaning the boilers in the boilerhouses.
He also regularly undertook work in domestic premises whilst working for the North Eastern Gas Board during the 1970s when he was responsible for converting customer’s gas supplies in the Huddersfield and Halifax areas.
Nicola Handley, a specialist industrial disease lawyer at Irwin Mitchell’s Leeds office, representing Joseph, said: “Mesothelioma is an aggressive and incurable cancer which causes so much distress for victims like Joseph who worked in industries where asbestos was regularly used.
“Sadly, many employers did not do enough to manage the risks of asbestos exposure, despite knowing how dangerous it is.
“We hope that Joseph’s former co-workers who worked at Foster Wheeler, North Eastern Gas Board and L B Holliday&Co will come forward to help us with our investigations. It’s important that we now help Joseph and his family get answers about his exposure to the deadly dust.”
Anyone with information about the working conditions at the above company’s should contact Nicola Handley at Irwin Mitchell’s Leeds office on 0113 220 6233 or email Nicola.firstname.lastname@example.org.