The widow of a former Tesco manager who died from asbestos-related cancer has launched legal action against the supermarket giant.
Dad-of-three David Priest, 69, lived for just seven months after being diagnosed with mesothelioma – a terminal cancer caused by exposure to asbestos dust.
In the last few weeks he was confined to bed, too weak to even eat, and when he took his final breath wife Jeanette said it was a relief to let him go.
Robbed of the retirement they had planned to spend together, the 55-year-old has now vowed to fulfil his dying wish and get justice for her husband.
David, who was originally from Tipton, had worked in the food retail industry since leaving school and was a manager for Tesco between 1974 and 1985 at various stores in the West Midlands area. In particular, he helped to oversee expansions at supermarkets in Edgbaston, Dudley and Smethwick.
Before his death in August, he recalled asbestos boards and tiles being cut up as part of building work and said he would help to clear up afterwards.
The tragedy is that many employers did not make their workers aware of the dangers and now, many years later, they are paying the price.
Jeanette, who also worked for the company, said: “He was a stickler for doing things properly and would always make sure that areas were cleaned so the dust and debris didn’t accumulate.
“That was the only place he could remember coming into contact with asbestos, but of course he had no idea of the dangers at the time.”
David, who also had seven grandchildren and great-grandchildren, moved to Blackpool with Jeanette in 1990 and ran The Andora Hotel on South Shore, closing only shortly before he got ill.
Both shared a love of travel and planned to spend their retirement visiting different parts of the world, but following David’s diagnosis he was unable to even leave the house.
Jeanette added: “Christmas 2015 was the first we hadn’t worked in 25 years. What we didn’t know then was that it would be our last Christmas together.
“We found out in the January and to be told you are dying and have nine months at the most to live is horrendous.
“We couldn’t do anything. People kept saying we should make the most of the time, but how could we do that when he was so ill.
“He was in a lot of pain, but he didn’t want to go into hospital or a hospice, he wanted to be at home.
“I was devastated and still am, but by the end it was a relief. I couldn’t see him suffer anymore.”
Lawyers at Slater and Gordon, who David instructed before his death, are now appealing for people who may have worked with him in places where asbestos was present.
Although it is banned now, it was widely used in building until the 1980s.
Emma Newman, an industrial disease specialist at Slater and Gordon, said: “David said he was never warned or told to take any precautions against this toxic substance which would one day kill him.
“The tragedy is that many employers did not make their workers aware of the dangers and now, many years later, they are paying the price.”
Anyone who believes they can help should contact Emma on 0161 383 3474 or email Emma.Newman@slatergordon.co.uk.