"I deserve answers": Liversedge pensioner in appeal to former colleagues after asbestosis diagnosis

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A Liversedge woman who was diagnosed with an asbestos-related condition last year has appealed to former colleagues to come forward and help her gain justice regarding her illness.

Brenda Hartley, 88, was diagnosed with asbestosis – which is inflammation and scarring of the lungs caused by asbestos exposure – in April 2017, several months after she was informed that existing lung disease problems had worsened.

Following the news, she and her family have asked lawyers to investigate the cause of her illness and whether it may be linked to her time working for British Belting Asbestos Ltd from 1944 up until her retirement in 1984.

Now Brenda and her legal representatives are appealing to anyone who worked for the company across that period to come forward and shed more light on the presence of asbestos.

Brenda was initially based at St Pegs Mill in Cleckheaton during her first couple of years working at British Belting Asbestos Ltd – which was subsequently renamed BBA Aviation Ltd.

Following that she moved to the main BBA factory site at Moor End and was based in the weaving sheds, where she recalls asbestos fabrics like fire curtains and fire blankets were produced.

She said: “There were large pools of the thread and they were poured into the weaving shed. My role involved threading the asbestos through holes in the room and as the looms operated fibres would be released into the air. They would also get stuck on my fingers.

“It has been very difficult coping with my diagnosis, as while I was once very independent I have really started to struggle. I can’t drive anymore and I often need care at home. I have even had oxygen at home since August last year.

“It is hard to take that I may have developed this illness as a result of not being properly protected at work and I feel I deserve answers regarding how this happened. If anyone could help it would be hugely appreciated.”

Oliver Collett, the asbestos-related disease expert at Irwin Mitchell’s Leeds office representing Brenda, said: “Through our work we see time and time again how the true consequences of asbestos exposure often only come to light many decades after the contact with the material has taken place.

“Our client was understandably devastated by her diagnosis and her health has deteriorated significantly since the news. As such we are determined to work quickly to help her gain the answers she deserves regarding the illness. We would be grateful to anyone who may be able to come forward and support our work.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact Oliver Collett at Irwin Mitchell’s Leeds office on 0113 394 6784 or email Oliver.Collett@IrwinMitchell.com.