Michael Speak: Appeal for information following asbestos cancer death of former Gomersal gas fitter
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Michael Speak died in June 2020, aged 72, within nine weeks of being diagnosed with mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the lung associated with exposure to asbestos, often decades previously.
His widow, Pauline Speak, 74, has now appealed to his former colleagues in the Spen Valley for help in establishing how he came into contact with the asbestos that claimed his life.
Pauline said: “When Michael first began to feel unwell, we didn’t think too much of it, as he had always been so fit, but as he lost weight we became really concerned.
“The mesothelioma diagnosis was such a shock. It was the last thing we expected to hear and in less than two months, he was gone.
“Even now, it’s so hard to accept that we’ll never see him again. The speed of it took us all by surprise and there just wasn’t enough time to do all that we wanted to do. We all miss him so much and there’s not a day goes by that I don’t think of him.
“Michael told me some things about his work history and wanted to find out more about how he was exposed to asbestos, but in those last few weeks together his health was our priority.
“It now feels like the right time to find out how he was exposed to asbestos.
“If any of his old workmates could help us, I’d really appreciate it and with the truth, we can honour his memory and let him rest in peace.”
Pauline, along with her children Nigel Speak, 54, and Nicola Speak, 52, has instructed specialist asbestos-related disease lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate her husband’s illness and if it was linked to his work history.
They are looking to trace anyone who remembers Michael from his time as a gas fitter for the Gas Board in the Spen Valley area, from 1965 to 1970 and during his employment at the British Belting and Asbestos (BBA) factory in Cleckheaton, from 1970 until 1972. Michael was also employed with the National Coal Board as a coal miner from 1979 to 1988.
Hannah Robinson, the specialist asbestos-related disease lawyer at Irwin Mitchell supporting Pauline and her family, said: “Michael’s family are still struggling to come to terms with his death from mesothelioma. The initial shock of his diagnosis has seen grief lead to questions on how he could have been exposed to asbestos.
“Sadly, asbestos was used across many industries at one time and through our work, we support many families whose lives have been devastated as a consequence.
“Nothing can bring Michael back or ease what the family have been going through. However, understandably they have unanswered questions about how he was exposed to asbestos and we’re determined to help in their search for the answers.
“If anyone who worked with Michael could come forward with their recollections, it would mean a lot to Pauline and the family. Any details could help provide the family with some closure and the answers they deserve.
“It is important to remind people of the dangers still posed by asbestos, which continues to kill more than 5,000 people a year through illnesses such as mesothelioma and other diseases.”
A fit and active man, Michael was keen on sports and enjoyed playing squash in his spare time. At home, he was a committed family man who loved to spend time with his two grandchildren. He was also keen on DIY and did a lot of his own work on home improvements.
After beginning to experience symptoms of breathlessness, Michael consulted with his GP and was sent for tests before being diagnosed with mesothelioma in April 2020. Michael sadly died on June 30, 2020.
Anyone with information that could help Pauline, is asked to contact Lucy Andrews at Irwin Mitchell on 0113 3946782 or email [email protected]