Hunt for work pals of lung cancer victim

AN APPEAL for help has been launched after the death of a Mirfield man from an asbestos-related illness.

Power station worker Malcolm James died aged 69 in March 2009 from lung cancer caused by exposure to the substance.

Mystery still surrounds how Malcolm was exposed to asbestos while working for various firms in the 1960s.

Son John James, 48, of Greenside Road, marked the recent third anniversary of his dad’s death by appealing for information.

He said of his dad’s five-month battle against cancer: “It was terrible seeing my dad suffer so much towards the end of his life.

“It’s even harder to come to terms with the fact that his illness was caused by simply going to work every day about 50 years ago.”

Malcolm was a general labourer who worked for Sheffield-based scrap metal merchants Thos-W-Ward Ltd, known as Tommy Wards.

He was also a self-employed ‘oxy-cutter’ at power stations across Yorkshire, where he dismantled turbine houses, boilers, chimneys and pipes for scrap.

It is believed this is how he may have been exposed to asbestos, but where and when remains unknown.

John said: “His work at power stations was informal and sporadic. He was among many labourers who did short-term work.

“His asbestos exposure could’ve been anywhere. We don’t even know if any employers warned him how dangerous the work could be to his health.

“We hope somebody he might have worked with can help us find out more about what happened so we can get him the justice he deserves.”

Malcolm, a grandfather of seven originally from Thornhill, first started showing symptoms of lung cancer in October 2008.

He suffered breathlessness and a persistent cough. He died just five months later, leaving his family devastated.

Ian Toft, a specialist industrial disease lawyer at legal firm Irwin Mitchell, has taken up the case on their behalf.

He said: “We know asbestos was routinely used in power stations to insulate boilers, chimneys and pipes.

“We therefore believe Malcolm would have been heavily exposed due to the nature of his work.”

Anyone with information can call Mr Toft at Irwin Mitchell on 0113 218 6453 or email

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