Family wants answers over concerns washing work clothes caused Doncaster wife’s terminal asbestos cancer

A daughter from Doncaster is making a plea to her dad’s former colleagues for help amid fears her mum contracted asbestos-related cancer from washing his work clothes.

By Stephanie Bateman
Thursday, 20th May 2021, 11:42 am
Updated Thursday, 20th May 2021, 11:55 am

Elaine Williamson, aged 80, has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, a terminal cancer of the lining of the lung linked to exposure to asbestos, often decades earlier.

Elaine, known as Trish, and her daughter Jayne Miller, have instructed legal experts at Irwin Mitchell to investigate how Trish was exposed to the hazardous material. They are investigating whether her illness is linked to washing the work clothes of Trish’s late husband, Anthony. Known as Tony he worked at Drax Power Station near Selby.

Jayne, aged 45, has joined her legal team in appealing to her dad’s former workmates for information about working conditions at the site, where Tony was based from 1974 to 1978.

Elaine Williamson and daughter Jayne Miller

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With no obvious link to asbestos in Trish’s own work history, the family, of Bessacarr, believe if Tony’s former colleagues know if he encountered the substance, it could help the investigation into how Trish could have come into contact with asbestos herself.

Simon Webb, a specialist asbestos-related disease lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, said: “Cases of asbestos exposure, particularly among women can go under reported when faced with the male-dominated volume of industrial asbestos-related disease cases.

“While many of the cases we are involved in are related to those who have been directly exposed to asbestos during their working lives, instances when family members have had ‘secondary’ exposure are sadly not uncommon.

Elaine and Tony on their wedding day

“Understandably, Trish and the rest of her family are devastated by her diagnosis and have a number of concerns about how she may have been exposed to asbestos.

“We are determined to help Trish and Jayne in their quest for answers and hope Tony’s work colleagues will come forward. Any information, no matter how small, could prove vital.

“Trish’s story will hopefully encourage other women to seek the help they deserve.”

Trish developed symptoms in early 2019, when she started to experience shortness of breath, along with pain and discomfort in her chest. Initially it was suspected to be a different underlying health condition. This was investigated further through scans and later a lung biopsy, with Trish diagnosed with mesothelioma in October 2019.

Trish realised that she had not come into contact with asbestos through her working life. However, she believed Tony, who died prior to Trish’s diagnosis, may have worked with asbestos.

Jayne said: “Mum being diagnosed with mesothelioma was a massive shock. It was awful having to tell my brothers and sisters. When mum was told it was related to asbestos exposure, we couldn’t see how that was possible. Then she remembered years of washing dad’s work clothes and how he could come home covered in white dust.

“I just hope that making this appeal might be our best chance of reaching dad’s old workmates. Getting mum the answers she deserves would provide some closure and a resolution.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact Simon Webb at Irwin Mitchell on 0114 274 4277 or email [email protected]

​In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Liam Hoden, editor.