A widow has finally gained compensation of £228K for her late husband’s asbestos-related death, 50 years after he was exposed to the substance.
Richard Atkins was an apprentice and engineer at APE Allen, part of Queens Engineering Works, when he was exposed to the asbestos in the 1960s.
Decades later he died from mesothelioma, a condition related to asbestos exposure. And his wife Mary’s struggle for compensation meant tracing a former colleague all the way to New Zealand who remembered the exposure to asbestos and gave a statement.
Mary Atkins’ solicitor Brigitte Chandler, said: “As the exposure to asbestos took place more than 50 years ago it had been initially difficult to find witnesses.
“However we were able to trace a former colleague of Mr Atkins to New Zealand who remembered the exposure to asbestos and gave a statement. This forced the company to accept liability.”
Mr Atkins was involved in the installation and service work on ships and at pumping stations dealing with diesel engines, turbines and pipes. He worked on ships at Camellaird, Birkenhead and in Portsmouth.
WH Allen Sons and Company first came to Bedford in 1893, and was a major employer as well as one of the most recognisable parts of the Queens Park landscape.
Although the company no longer exists in its current form its name can still be found throughout town, not least Allen Park which was previously owned by the firm and ran as a sports facility for staff.
Ms Chandler, who works for Swindon law firm Charles Lucas & Marshall, added: “Asbestos was widely used in boiler and engine rooms on ships.
“Quite often the work involved removing small amounts of asbestos. “Developing asbestos disease can take up to 70 years from the point of exposure. Mrs Atkins was able to bring a claim for damages due to her husband’s pain and suffering and her loss of income.
“Many people may have forgotten they were exposed to asbestos,” said Brigitte Chandler.
“If anyone develops chest pains they should seek medical advice.”
Asbestos claims relating to the former works are the responsibility of Rolls Royce. The company was not available for comment.