Joy Toner-Johnson, of Sherburn-in Elmet, says her family couldn’t believe what they were hearing when they were told retired payroll manager Peter Johnson had mesothelioma; a disease often associated with tradespeople working on building sites.
The church organist and popular community figure was diagnosed with the disease in August last year after fluid was found on his lungs. Less than a year later he lost his battle with the deadly disease.
Joy said: “We were blown away by the diagnosis. Dad never worked in an industrial setting – we couldn’t make sense of what we were hearing.”
“My dad was also really clean-living - he was a devout Methodist, had never smoked a cigarette or touched a drop of alcohol.”
After receiving his diagnosis, Peter traced the possible exposure back to Armstrong Whitworths, later known as Thor Power Tools in North Shields where he worked in 1958 to 1960.
Thor Power Tools was a machine tool manufacturer and Peter was employed as a duplicator operator on a Banda machine. It is thought that there was asbestos used at Thor Power Tools as pipe insulation.
Before his death Peter launched a civil case against his previous employer and provided a statement to law firm Slater and Gordon.
Daughter Joy is now continuing the fight for justice and is appealing for her dad’s old colleagues to come forward and speak to the family’s legal team.
Joy added: “I feel like I need to do this for my dad and other people because there will be so many others affected who won’t even know yet.
“Asbestos is a silent killer and people die of it every day yet most people don’t realise the severity of it.
“I feel like I’ve been robbed of the rest of my dad’s life. My children who are six and eight have missed so much too - their grandad was a really patient man who had so much to teach them. He had a huge zest for life and would always put the needs of others ahead of his own.”
Industrial disease lawyer Madelene Holdsworth from Slater and Gordon is pursuing the case on behalf of Mr Johnson’s family.
She said: “One of the most basic things employees should expect from their bosses is that they will be kept as safe as reasonably possible. Peter’s family are rightly furious that this act could have led to a beloved husband, father, grandfather and friend dying early which is why we really need to hear from anyone who worked at Thor around the same time he did.”
Anybody who worked for Armstrong Whitworths/Thor Power Tools in North Shields between 1958 and 1960 and remembers asbestos in the premises can contact Madelene at [email protected]