The family of a Yorkshire man is appealing for information following his premature death from an asbestos-related disease.

Bernard Shillitoe passed away in January 2015 after developing mesothelioma, a fatal lung disease caused by asbestos.

In 1941, Bernard started a seven-year apprenticeship with the manufacturer Joseph Rhodes and Sons Limited in Wakefield, West Yorkshire. During his apprenticeship he worked in a fitting shop, cutting clutch discs and brake linings which were then used in presses and guillotines.

He later became a foreman in the fitting shop and retired in 1988.

Thompsons Solicitors is now investigating on behalf of the Shillitoe family to confirm whether asbestos was present in the fitting shop during Bernard’s employment at Joseph Rhodes and Sons Limited.

His daughter, Christine, said: “Dad used to love gardening, and now that I’m helping my mum with it I’ve realised just how fit and healthy he must have been. Once the disease took hold he quickly lost his energy and struggled to do things that he had previously done with ease.

“He worked at Joseph Rhodes and Sons Limited for his entire career, so we’re hopeful that someone will come forward with information about the working conditions in the fitting shop, to help give us some closure.”

Oliver Collett, the solicitor representing the Shillitoe family, said: “The long-term effects of asbestos exposure are well documented, so the family believe Bernard could have been exposed to asbestos at any time from 1941 to 1988, which resulted in him developing the condition that manifested years after his retirement.

“We now want to hear from anyone who worked with Bernard, or from those that have information about the working conditions at Joseph Rhodes and Sons Limited, so we can confirm the presence of asbestos in the workplace during his employment.”

Anyone who thinks they have information to help Bernard’s family should contact Oliver Collett at Thompsons Solicitors' Leeds office on 01132 056304.