Tom Scholey, aged 76, from Armthorpe died just weeks after he was diagnosed with mesothelioma.
A cancer of the lining of the lung, mesothelioma is linked with exposure to asbestos, often decades previously.
Following Tom’s death, his wife Barbara Scholey, aged 76, instructed specialist asbestos related disease lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate whether he was exposed to the substance during his time as a joiner.
Barbara and her family have now joined with the legal team ahead of this year’s Workers’ Memorial Day (April 28) in appealing for information from Tom’s former colleagues about the working conditions he would have faced during his career.
They are particularly keen to trace anyone who knew Tom during his time working for J Dixon (Doncaster) Limited in Balby, Doncaster, between 1961 and 1972.
Nick Woods, the expert asbestos-related disease lawyer at Irwin Mitchell supporting Barbara and her family, said: “Sadly, Tom’s case is one of a large number we encounter where people have gone on to develop an asbestos-related cancer many years after their initial exposure is likely to have taken place.
“As Tom’s illness progressed so quickly he was unable to begin his search for answers, leaving Barbara determined to get to the truth of his asbestos exposure in his memory.
“While nothing can make up for their loss, we’re determined to provide the family with the answers they deserve.
"If anyone with information on J Dixon or Tom’s work history could come forward, it would mean the world to the family and could prove to be vital in the ongoing investigation.”
Tom and Barbara married on September 3, 1966, by which time Tom was already working for J Dixon, as he had joined directly on leaving school.
Tom’s role with the firm mainly centred on helping with the construction or demolition of buildings in Doncaster and throughout South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire.
Barbara can still vividly recall Tom coming in from work covered in dust.
She remembers Tom spent time working in Balby, because it was where she came from and would hear of other places when he pointed them out on car journeys.
Having left Dixon’s for other employment in 1972, he did return to the firm and spent the last ten years of his working life employed by them before retiring in 1992.
Away from work, fishing became more than a hobby, and Tom competed successfully in matches through the Top Club in Bentley, winning lots of prizes and trophies.
Most weekends would involve meeting up with friends and going to the Mount Pleasant Hotel in Bawtry, for dinner to celebrate special occasions.
Tom and Barbara met in July in 1965 in the Adam and Eve Pub in Scawthorpe and once married, some of their fondest memories were of holidaying in Blackpool and on the East Coast.
Motorbikes were also Tom’s passion and an early mode of transport for many years was a 500 Velocette, a BSA Goldstar and later a Reliant Robin when his family came along.
Tom and Barbara would often go to watch motorbike racing together, with Cadwell Park, Louth Lincolnshire, Olivers Mount Scarborough and Donnington Park all regular destinations.
There was a holiday every year, going to the Isle of Man for two weeks for the TT Races, often staying in the same hotels as the riders, speaking with them and getting their autographs.
Tom also enjoyed gardening and pottering in his greenhouse, where he grew vegetables and was successful at growing fuchsias.
Although well-liked and respected, Tom was a quiet, private man who loved spending time with his family.
His focus was very much on wife Barbara, son and daughter Susan and Alan and then his two grandchildren, Jordan and Dean.
Tom started experiencing shortness of breath at the end of May, 2021. Following tests he was diagnosed with mesothelioma in July. He died on August 20.
Speaking about her husband, Barbara said: “It still pains me terribly to think of how quickly I lost my husband of nearly 55 years, particularly when I consider that he suffered with an illness that came on through no fault of his own nor arising from any lifestyle choices he made.
“I can only hope that those who allowed him to be exposed to asbestos without sufficient warnings or protection will accept responsibility for his death.
“Tom was a wonderful husband and real family man.
"What happened to him all seemed to happen so suddenly and even though some months have passed since Tom died, I still get very upset when I think about it all.
“If anyone can help us, it would mean a lot and help us all move forward from what has been a devastating period in all our lives.
"We know nothing can make up for his death but we want to honour Tom’s memory by finding out how he was exposed to asbestos. That’s the least we can do.”
Anyone with information that could help Barbara is asked to contact Nick Woods at Irwin Mitchell on 0114 274 4420 or email [email protected]
Workers’ Memorial Day is held on April 28 to remember those who have died as a result of their employment, and campaigns to improve health and safety standards in the workplace and increase protection for employees.