21 May 2018
Six Figure Pay Out for Wife of Power Station Worker Whose Life was Cut Short by 20 Years
A bereaved widow has told how her husband’s life was cut short by 20 years after he was exposed to deadly asbestos while working in some of the capitals leading power stations.
Ian Gentle spent around nine years working his way up through the ranks as an engineer in numerous power stations around London, including Hackney and Greenwich.
The father of three started working as an apprentice electrical fitter for the Central Electricity Generating Board at 16 but it wasn’t until 51 years later he lost his life to cancer.
After failing to fight off a succession of chest infections in 2013 and doctors wrongly believing he was suffering with Shingles, Ian was diagnosed with Sarcomatoid Mesothelioma, two years later.
Within seven months of diagnoses, Julie, now 57, watched as he husband’s health rapidly deteriorated and he passed away at 67.
Doctors estimated that the illness ravaging his body reduced his life expectancy by at least 20 years and in an additional sad twist of events, Ian was also diagnosed with prostate cancer, stage four.
Julie, from Hockley, Essex, says: “It’s very hard to describe how it feels to hear your husband’s life had been cut short by at least 20 years, simply because he worked hard to provide for his family.
“He was a strong man but to receive two terrifying diagnoses was incredibly difficult to process. It was such a blow to us and our very happy life together.
“A week before Ian died he went into Haven’s hospice in Southend. When we arrived he said he wanted to go down onto the beach and have an ice-cream. He loved ice-cream.
“But his health deteriorated so quickly I never got a chance to fulfil that wish for him. We did, however, celebrate our wedding anniversary whilst Ian was in the hospice and he got to see his grandson, Theo, be blessed by a vicar as his christening was postponed due Ian’s rapidly declining health.
“He was in so much pain and was on quite a substantial amount of morphine in an attempt to make him comfortable. The high dosage meant he suffered with hallucinations, calling out and raising his arms up in the air.
“He was so confused he thought he had been involved in a car crash.
“The Tuesday night before he died was horrendous. From 9pm in the evening, around every 20 minutes he was struggling to breathe so much, it was like watching someone drown.
“This went on for hours, until 4am when he was barely conscious. He passed away the following day on Wednesday 4th November, 2015 at 5pm. I wouldn’t wish that sight on anyone.”
Julie and Ian met in 1981 when they were both working for Transport for London. The 19 year old secretary, sent the 32 year old a blank Valentine’s card but his friends quickly guessed who his admirer was.
Julie, who married her husband of 34 years on Halloween, says: “He caught my eye and at first I was a bit shy to say anything so I grabbed the opportunity on Valentine’s Day and within a week he had asked me out.
“We went to a barn dance, which was the first and only time we ever did and we got engaged just a few months later.
“Ian was always such a happy man, who just wanted to spend time with his family and travel the world.
“Sadly we never got to go on our dream trips to Hong Kong, Singapore and Egypt.”
After receiving his diagnoses Ian was placed on a clinical trial through St. Barts Hospital, where injections attempted to shrink the tumours on a weekly bases.
It quickly became clear his liver was failing and Ian was removed from the trial after collapsing in the October.
Edmund Young, an asbestos-related specialist at Slater and Gordon, said: “Ian spent a number of years working tirelessly for the CEGB and it was clear he was an excellent electrical fitter, servicing various power stations across the country.
“Sadly, it became increasingly apparent that the illness was drastically debilitating Ian’s life, leaving Julie to provide twenty four hour care for her husband, while grappling with the news that their years together would be dramatically decreased.
“Ian had been negligently exposed to asbestos without any safeguards or warnings and not provided appropriate protection. The CEGB should have taken steps to protect its workforce, providing suitable respiratory equipment, protective clothing and issued warns, stating that materials containing asbestos should not be handled.
“We battled for Julie, tirelessly to match the fight she fought for her husband until his last day. Mesothelioma is still having such a dire effect on so many people’s lives across the nation, it is imperative it is still spoken about and awareness is continued to be raised.”
Julie received a six figure settlement after launching legal action through law firm Slater and Gordon.
Julie, who is mum to Robin, 31, Georgia, 29 and Jonathan 27, says: “One of the hardest parts of dealing with an illness like Mesothelioma is discovering that this illness has been eating away at your body for so many years without you knowing it.
“Ian was potentially exposed to this when he was just 16, yet it took over 50 years to come out and at a time we were both due to retire and enjoy our years together.
“It was meant to be our time to jet around the world and see the places we had always dreamed of going.”
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