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Fighting for truth and justice for the victims of asbestos
By Joan Baird (William's wife)
In March 1996 for me the dreaded news we all fear from a consultant, "I'm sorry your husbands illness is terminal, he has mesothelioma". That was the first time I heard the word. On asking what was it and told this was a cancer caused by the inhalation of an asbestos fibre which lodged itself in the pleura of the lung and started building silently its wall. In Willie's case it took forty years before it reared its ugly head, Willie had thought he had given his back a wrench and thats what he thought was the stabbing pain in his back. Within two weeks an x-ray which showed a whiteout on the left lung, immediately admitted to hospital, lung biopsy, result terminal; time limit six months.
For these months I nursed Willie at home, my doctors were excellent as was the nursing practice, the assigned MacMillan nurse and Marie Curie nurses in the latter stages. This was extremely hellish to witness such agony, finally Willie was freed from his pain on the 12th. Sept.,1996.
The consultant told Willie when diagnosed to get in touch with the Clydebank Asbestos Group, which he did immediately and the following day two members of the group came down and noted all the relevant information. They set all the paper work in motion as to entitlements, industrial lawyer. I am indeed indebted to the group as I would have been ignorant as to how to proceed. I did know about asbestos and its many uses but wanted to know the how, why; where and when. I was appalled to learn that past governments and employers knew of the dangers and several Factory Inspectorate reports ignored.
The Legal Process
The legal process is complicated, you have lost your loved one and you are catapulted into that limbo land of unreality, I for seven years and delaying tactics the order of the day. Fortunately now changes for meso-victims within the law have speeded up due to many dedicated campaigners. It may well seem strange but I consider myself lucky in the respect Willie was 75yrs. My heart is deeply saddened when I have witnessed many with this dreaded disease very much younger dying leaving young families, this is why I fight on for hopefully ultimate justice.
Compensation can never replace a loved life but it can alleviate loss of earnings etc..
How did Willie inhale this fatal fibre?
He was a welder to trade and started his apprenticeship with Archibald Lowe & Co., was with them for 11 years and like many a Clydesider moved on around the yards. Somewhere in that period he was exposed. He then moved around the country on various welding employ. The latter third of his working life he became a Welding Inspector for assignments abroad, Australia, Pakistan; Indonesia; Iraq; Saudi Arabia; Iran; The United Arab Emirates; Kuwait, some of these countries two and three times around.
Our life together
Willie and I married in Dec., 1977 and on the 5th Jan., 1978 I went out with him to Kuwait for two years, he opened up the world for me. He was known by friends and family as "Wandring Willie," proud of the Baird name being an ancient Scottish Clan and of course a Partick man.
At 64 and after his last tour of duty in Saudi Arabia waiting for another assignment that never came, forced into retirement, this he had great difficulty in accepting; he enjoyed so much the challenge of his work.
For his age he was very fit and we had just celebrated his 75th. birthday on the 19th.March 1996 at a dance. We both loved dance and that was the last dance we attended. Willie had a beautiful baritone singing voice, light opera and romantic ballads was his forte.
How do I feel! Cheated, lonely and empty; denied the autumn of my years with my husband. The doctors confirmed that Willie most likely would have lived to a ripe old age had it not been for this devastating disease. Like thousands of others he was killed by corporate murder. UNFORGIVABLE...
By Fiona McWilliam (Hamish's wife)
My husband Hamish left school at 16 to become at apprentice electrician. The very first job he had was the refurbishment of a boiler room. He couldn’t remember if he was there one year or two but that was the only time he was exposed to asbestos and it was only for a week or two.
Hamish’s diagnosis came a long time after.
We’d never heard of asbestosis or anything like that so we didn’t really appreciate the kind of impact it would have on our family.
Meeting up with Clydebank Asbestos Group made such a difference. The first time Hamish went there he met the staff and had a chat. He was shown the forms he would have to fill in to ask for insurance and industrial benefits. They asked - would you like help? Yes please was our answer. Clydebank Asbestos Group showed us how to fill the forms in and without them we wouldn’t have been able to do that.
The compensation we received won’t ever make up for what happened but it did help. We were able to use the money to pay for extra help around the house and buy things like wheelchairs and walkers to help Hamish get about.
We are so thankful that we got in touch with Clydebank Asbestos group because we got the support and the advice we needed. We felt a little more secure with what we were doing and we knew we had the support there if we needed it at any time.
We have now lost Hamish. He was the main stead of our family and he loved his family dearly. He was very good to us all, and we all miss him.
I would say it’s really important to get in touch with a group like Clydebank Asbestos Group. The level of complexity in all the forms you get is absolutely ridiculous, and getting people who can help you who understand where the forms are going, makes life so much easier.
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