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Terminal asbestos victim launches compensation bid

By The Cornishman  |  Posted: January 03, 2013

  • Tony Cock and Sally Lewis. PZPM20121211J-001_C.JPG

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A WEST CORNWALL man dying from a vicious cancer caused by asbestos is planning to launch a compensation bid.

Tony Cock, 59, a born and bred St Buryan man, was diagnosed with the industrial disease mesothelioma in July and was told he had between three and six months to live.

Now the plumber and former decorator is launching a legal fight because he believes the asbestos that caused his cancer came from his time working at Cable and Wireless at Porthcurno.

Tony, whose father and grandfather before him worked at the site, spent years painting asbestos lagging on heating pipes.

And he believes asbestos dust that he says fell from them caused the lesions that have ravaged his lungs and left him unable to leave the house after six months of chemotherapy.

He said: "We would decorate the ceilings and paint the heating pipes, dusting the pipes off with a brush. They were usually thick with dust.

"It was a messy job but you did not realise what you were working with. Asbestos was not a big issue in the Seventies. There wasn't really any health and safety – the only protection you got was a boiler suit."

Tony's solicitors, national law firm Pannone, are appealing for people he worked with to come forward.

They are particularly keen to hear from members of the decorating team at Cable and Wireless from 1975 to 1983, and a Mike Knowles, thought to live in Falmouth.

Tony's illness – diagnosed after he contracted pneumonia and had to have two pints of fluid drained from his lung – has already ruined one of the best parts of his Christmas.

For ten years he has been one of the team who put up the beautiful St Buryan Christmas lights in the tight-knit west Cornish village.

His own house is adorned with a bright multicoloured 'Noel'.

This year Tony was forced to watch out of his living room window as the displays went up.

Tony said: "That's when it really hit home. I'd normally be out there four weekends in a row fixing the Christmas lights on the houses. I got emotional then."

Tony, who was also involved in the annual St Buryan Gala and other village events, is now confined to the house.

It is difficult to take for a man who carried on working right up until the actual cancer diagnosis came.

The operation to remove two pints of fluid from his lung led to a biopsy that found the industrial disease mesothelioma.

He said: "They gave me an absolute maximum of 12 months. That was on July 6."

Chemotherapy has kept the cancer at bay but has left Tony permanently sick and very weak.

Tony's partner Sally has given up work at Matthew Stevens Fish to care for him and Tony is also grateful to family, friends and neighbours.

He said: "Our friends and family have been fantastic, the whole village has. I've only got to ask here and it happens. I've had meals brought round and pasties made. You've only got to stick your head out the door."

Sally said: "There was a time we did not think he would make Christmas. We've just got to make the most of it."

Appealing for former workmates to come forward, Tony said: "I don't blame anybody. They [his Cable and Wireless bosses] were probably just as ignorant as I was.

"I don't think they would knowingly expose you to that. The pity is simple precautions would have done it.

"I picked up one little particle and that scars your lung and causes the cancer."

Solicitor Alicia Rendell said: "We would very much like to speak to anyone who worked at the Cable and Wireless site at Porthcurno during the Seventies and Eighties."

A spokesperson from Cable & Wireless Communications said: "We are aware of this historic claim, but cannot comment on individual cases. As a responsible employer we take matters of health and safety very seriously."

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