William Baird

Helping Victims of Mesothelioma

Joan Baird with a picture of her late husband William


William Baird - Case Study


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.


Joan speaks at WestminsterThe legal process a nightmare, 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 never can 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.


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.

Joan Baird

In 2003 I was asked by ITN to do a documentary. The Name of it was " YOU SHALL KNOW THEM BY THEIR TRAIL OF DEATH." This went out under the series "Real Life." aired in August 2004. Sharing in this was a very fractured young widow Pauline Bonney from Eastbourne, she filming in England, I Scotland; both of us in South Africa. For me a very humbling experience in S. Africa such poverty and a mass of walking death of mesothelioma victims constantly exposed to airborne fibres. Oh! how the heart bleeds for mans inhumanity.


My eternal gratitude to LAURIE FLYNN, PRODUCER AND DON JORDAN DIRECTOR OF HUMAN EYE, for giving me the opportunity of filming with the hope that it will have reached out to benefit future mankind.

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