Family want justice for asbestos-affected Ron

Ron Valentine in his 20s and below, in his later years
Ron Valentine in his 20s and below, in his later years

Like many people of his generation, Ronald Valentine spent several years working in industrial buildings in Chorley.

Outside work, he enjoyed gardening, drinking a tot of rum and spending time with his family.

But his life changed when he became ill due to mesothelioma, a form of cancer which can be caused by exposure to asbestos.

His daughter, Pam Telfer, 57, said: “Mesothelioma is caused by inhalation of asbestos fibres and is classed as an industrial disease.

“The condition can take a long time to develop.

“They breathe in these fibres and they lay dormant in their system for a while. It can be 60 years or more before people can be affected by it.”

Ronald, known as Ron, first started showing symptoms two years ago.

Pam said: “He started a couple of years back with really bad breathing problems.

“He found it hard to do everyday tasks. He had chest pains and was gasping for breath.

“He used to love his garden but had to keep siting down.

“Even going across the road for a paper, he couldn’t get his breath.

“It really debilitated him.”

The disease developed and Ron’s health deteriorated.

Pam, of Austin Drive, Chorley, said: “It caused multiple organ failure eventually and he was admitted to hospital.

“They only diagnosed it when he was dying. He was too ill by that time and couldn’t lie down for them to do proper X-rays because his lungs were filling with fluid.

“They couldn’t really treat him properly in hospital. The prognosis wasn’t good.”

Two weeks after being admitted to hospital, Ron, of Bagganley Lane, Chorley, died on March 31 this year.

He was 83 years old and left his wife, three children and six grandchildren.

Pam said: “It was quick at the end, but he had been suffering for two years.

“He didn’t want to go out much and would sit on top of the fire, even on a hot day, because his circulation was bad.

“He was an outgoing person normally, but it changed him.

“A lot of his family lived up to their 90s, so we expected him to live a lot longer.”

After Ron’s death, his family were advised to seek compensation, as he had an industrial disease.

They are now looking for people who worked with Ron in the late 1950s and early 1960s to find out about the working conditions.

He was a maintenance worker at Leyland Motors, on Pilling Lane, Chorley; worked on a conveyor belt at Ellerbeck Colliery; and in the Royal Mail’s sorting office in Chorley.

Pam said: “He worked so long ago in these places and we are not really in touch with these people anymore.

“Chorley is such a tight-knit community that there is bound to be somebody who worked with him who might be able to explain the conditions they worked in.”

She also wants to raise awareness of mesothelioma.

She said: “It only takes one fibre of this stuff to be inhaled.

“They can also bring this dust home to their families, and their wives and daughters can be affected.

“I don’t want to scare people, but I think people do need to be more aware.”

And Pam says the family would make a donation to charity in memory of Ron if they received compensation.

She said: “We are trying to get some compensation to help my mum, but I think if we were successful, we would probably want to donate a bit to a charity that’s looking into cancer to help with research.

“It would help sufferers. Sometimes people who have got it are diagnosed earlier and really do suffer quite a lot with it.

“There is a lot of research going on to try to ease the symptoms. Even though there is no cure at the moment, they might find one through the research.”

Helen Childs, a solicitor from Withy King, added: “It’s a condition that continues to rise and kills 2,500 people a year at the moment.

“It hasn’t peaked and is still on the up I’m afraid.”

She explained there is a Government fund to help people who have been exposed to asbestos at work seek compensation and encouraged other people to access it.

Anyone who worked with Ron is asked to call Helen on 07876 805431.