The daughter of a former factory worker, who has been diagnosed with an asbestos-related cancer, is calling on colleagues who worked with her at Kangol in Carlisle, during the 1970s, to help with her claim for compensation.

Sharon Walker from the Caldewgate area of the city, was a young mother to her daughter Sharyn, when she was employed at the factory in the 1970s. She worked in the seatbelt division and was part of a team that specialised in making child safety seats. The team was housed in an extension to the main factory, which was known as ‘the shed’.

During her time in the shed, from around 1976-1979, the building was extended to accommodate an influx of new orders. This resulted in contractors coming in to remove the roof and walls as part of the extension while Mrs Walker and her colleagues continued to work in the building.

It is now thought that Mrs Walker was exposed to asbestos dust during the works, which has resulted in her contracting mesothelioma, a cancer that affects the lining of the lungs and is linked to asbestos exposure.

Mrs Walker went on to have two more children – her son, Graeme-Joe and her daughter, Sharmara Walker, who is both devastated and angry.

Sharon Walker pictured with her partner, Craig Wallace, and their daughter Sharyn in the late 1970's
Sharon Walker pictured with her partner, Craig Wallace, and their daughter Sharyn in the late 1970's

She said: “My mum is only 62 and is going to lose her life because of a job she did as a young mother so that she could put food on the table for her family.

“She is undergoing chemotherapy at the moment and is staying positive because she is a trooper. Everyone knows her as such a kind and giving person. She puts everyone else first and never thinks of herself, but this time she deserves answers.”

Mrs Walker’s family has sought the help of social justice law firm, Thompsons Solicitors, to find out how she was exposed to asbestos – but they need former colleagues of Mrs Walker to come forward and provide evidence of asbestos use at the Kangol factory.

The legal specialists paved the way for asbestos litigation in the UK, ever since it brought about the first successful asbestos disease claim to the House of Lords in 1972.

Mesothelioma is a fatal form of asbestos-related cancer that can take decades to develop from the smallest level of exposure to asbestos. Men are typically considered to be more at-risk of developing the disease, due to exposure often occurring in male-dominated industries such as manufacturing and construction. But, this toxic substance has left a legacy for women as well - not just as grieving widows, sisters, daughters and friends – but also as victims of asbestos-related diseases.

According to data from the Health and Safety Executive, of the 2,446 mesothelioma deaths recorded in Great Britain in 2018, 396 were women. This equates to approximately one in every six cases and is consistent with previous years.

Joseph Dowey, of Thompsons Solicitors, added: “The life-changing effects of asbestos diseases caused from exposure in the past continue to have tragic consequences on families and communities in the present as Mrs Walker’s case shows. We are hoping that her former colleagues, or anyone that knew them, can come forward and help the family find the answers they are looking for.”

Anyone with further information about the work taking place at Kangol factory between 1976-1979 should contact Joseph Dowey on 0191 269 0457 or josephdowey@Thompsons.law.co.uk.