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Family of former miner appeal for help after his death from asbestos-related cancer

View profile for Phillip Gower
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Sara Ross, the daughter of a former miner, Jeffrey Curnell, has issued an emotional appeal for help from his ex-work colleagues following his death from mesothelioma, a terminal cancer related to asbestos exposure.

Jeffrey, a miner for almost his entire life, joined the National Coal Board at the age of just 15, as soon as he left school in April 1955, and remained employed there until he was made redundant in 1987.  He started his mining career working at Cambrian Colliery from 1955 to 1966 and following a fatal explosion at the colliery in 1966, he was transferred to Cwm Colliery in Beddau just outside Llantrisant in the Rhondda Valley.

Sadly, Jeffrey died on 24 August 2016 aged 76 years at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital in Llantrisant from malignant mesothelioma, an incurable cancer caused by exposure to deadly asbestos dust, which affected the lining of his lungs.

His beloved daughter Sara along with the rest of the family have instructed specialist asbestos disease solicitor Phill Gower of Cardiff-based Novum Law to help uncover the details of how he contracted mesothelioma and to pursue a claim for compensation.

She said: “Following his apprenticeship, my Father became a ‘powder monkey’, a term used to describe someone who works on the explosive section within the mine. His job was to distribute the powder, dynamite and fuses to the miners at the coalface. The explosives were transported in a casket lined with asbestos insulation and my Dad was in daily contact with an asbestos blanket which he used when he was setting the charge and explosives. He was also exposed to significant amounts of dust from the explosions themselves and would have breathed in any asbestos present in that enclosed, underground environment.  When Dad was transferred to Cwm Colliery, he trained as an underground locomotive driver to transport machinery and equipment as well as miners. Asbestos was used on the locomotives and was included on the lining of the brake pads and/or clutch pads. Unfortunately, Dad was never provided with protective clothing or masks to minimise contact with asbestos throughout his employment in the mines.”

The family realised Jeffrey was unwell when he developed a persistent cough and experienced sharp pain in his lower back and severe breathlessness. Following a number of tests, he was admitted to Royal Glamorgan Hospital on 6 August 2016 and diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. Unfortunately, his condition rapidly deteriorated and he died less than three weeks later.

Asbestos disease solicitor Phill Gower said: “Mesothelioma causes significant suffering for those affected and their families. It doesn’t usually develop until many years after exposure to asbestos and can typically take anything from 15 to 60 years. Unfortunately, more than 2,600 people die each year as a result of being exposed to asbestos dust.

“We are really hoping that this appeal for information will help us find some answers for Sara and her family and enable them get some justice for Jeffrey. We are appealing specifically to anybody who has worked at the Cambrian Colliery or Cwm Colliery at any time, who can provide us with some information about working practices at the collieries and how Jeffrey came to be exposed to asbestos there.”

If you have any information that may assist Sara and her family, no matter how small, please call Novum Law free on 0800 884 0555, or email Phill Gower on: pgower@novumlaw.com.

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