‘I want to know what caused my cancer’

Jack Deeble with his MBE.
Jack Deeble with his MBE.

A former post office worker who contracted an incurable asbestos-related cancer is appealing for ex-colleagues to help him discover how.

Last month, Jack Deeble from Alnwick was diagnosed with mesothelioma, which he believes was caused by dust churned up when asbestos was stripped from the Fenkle Street Post Office branch during the 1960s.

The 91-year-old started to develop symptoms in 2011 – the same year he was awarded an MBE by the Queen in 2011 for his work with Alnwick Infirmary’s League of Friends.

He visited his GP this March after feeling lethargic, breathless and losing weight rapidly. Jack was then referred to a specialist at Wansbeck Hospital with follow-up treatment at Tyneside Hospital, where he endured an operation to drain fluid from his lungs.

Jack has now asked industrial illness experts at law firm Irwin Mitchell to help as he appeals to his former colleagues to get in touch, as they may hold vital information about why he was exposed to asbestos.

“I believe I was exposed to asbestos dust when the post office underwent major refurbishment in the early 1960s,” said Jack. “The work took a couple of months and involved removing the ceilings in the building, which exposed the asbestos-covered pipes.

“Contractors working on scaffold platforms hacked off asbestos from the pipes in corridors where I would walk through three or four times a day. It was dusty work and a difficult environment for regular employees like me to work in.”

He added: “I was never warned about the dangers of the dust nor was I ever given any protective clothing or a mask to wear while the refurbishment was carried out.”

Roger Maddocks, a partner and industrial disease expert at Irwin Mitchell, is representing Jack in his bid for justice.

He said: “He is still coming to terms with the terrible news that he is suffering from an incurable asbestos-related cancer. It’s a devastating illness which can be very distressing for the victims and their families.

“To help Jack get to the bottom of why he was exposed to asbestos we would like to hear from anyone who worked at the Alnwick Post Office in Northumberland in the 1960s, who can help shed light on the working conditions he endured.”

Contact Roger Maddocks at Irwin Mitchell on 0191 279 0095.