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Widow’s Appeal For Help After Husband Dies Within Weeks of Asbestos Cancer Diagnosis

Widow’s Appeal For Help After Husband Dies Within Weeks of Asbestos Cancer Diagnosis

A grieving grandmother whose husband died just weeks after being diagnosed with asbestos-related cancer is appealing for help from his former colleagues.

Anthony ‘Tony’ Southworth, 70, first complained of a cough in March last year.

Three months later he was dead.

The pensioner had mesothelioma, an incurable cancer caused by inhaling asbestos dust or fibres.

Tragically, it takes decades before symptoms appear and sufferers realise that something is wrong.

Tony’s widow, Jean, 68, from Acocks Green, Birmingham, said she is still struggling to come to terms with the death of her husband of almost 40 years.

Both married previously, he was also a doting dad to her three children and grandfather to nine.

Jean, a lollipop lady at The Oaklands Primary School, is now appealing for old friends and work mates to get in touch and help her piece together what happened.

She said: “In the beginning I just thought he had a cough. I couldn’t believe what it was when they told us. 

“He got so ill, so quickly. The weight just dropped off him, I didn’t recognise him anymore.

“We would have been married for 40 years next month and it is very lonely without him.

“I am angry because if it wasn’t for that stuff he would still be alive today.”

Born in Birmingham, Tony left school in 1961 and worked as a labourer for W Canning and Company.

From 1968 he was a transport manager at Typhoo for eight years before moving to the same role at HS Wards.

He was a press operator at MEM from 1984 to 1990, where he was also a union representative, and between 1990 and 2010 he worked for a company called Hi-Cast.

Tony was still working up until shortly before his death as a part-time ‘picker’, packing shoppers’ online orders at Asda in Small Heath.

Former barmaid Jean has now instructed lawyers to investigate where and when her late husband came into contact with asbestos. She is particularly keen to hear from anyone who remembers working with him in places which may have been contaminated by the deadly dust.   

She said: “Tony didn’t talk about his work at home – that was our time – but I know he was well-liked by his colleagues. He was such a happy-go-lucky person and would always help if he could.

“I’m sure he would have wanted to know when this happened, where it had come from, to try and help other people.”

Patrick Walsh, an industrial disease specialist at law firm Slater and Gordon, said: “Despite the known dangers of asbestos, many employers did not do enough to protect their staff.

“Mrs Southworth understandably wants answers about why her husband was taken away in such a short space of time and we would appeal to anyone who believes they can help her to get in touch.”

Anyone with information should call Patrick Walsh at Slater and Gordon on 0161 383 3909 or email

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