A hospice which cared for a former tug boat worker with a fatal asbestos related cancer during his final days has been helped by his family making a compensation claim against his former employers.

Asbestos claims specialists Thompsons Solicitors secured more than £5,000 for EllenorLions Hospices on instructions from Ken Welch’s family.

Mr Welch from Gravesend was cared for by staff at the EllenorLions Hospice in Coldharbour Road, Northfleet, before his death in September 2010.

He suffered from mesothelioma, a disease caused by exposure to asbestos.

Exposed to asbestos at work

He was exposed to asbestos working as a lighterman on the River Thames during the 1960s and 1970s.

Mr Welch, was 69 when he died, leaving behind Margaret, and daughter Nikkita, 24, who still live in Gravesend.

Following his death his family instructed Thompsons Solicitors to investigate a claim for compensation. Mr Welch had made it clear that he wanted the hospice costs included in his claim.

The Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform settled the claim out of court for substantial damages, including more than £5,000 towards the cost of his care at the hospice.

Exposed to asbestos years ago

Mrs Welch has also donated an additional £3,000 to the hospice.

She said: “Ken was diagnosed with mesothelioma in the July and his condition deteriorated very quickly. It was such a shock to all of us but despite his suffering Ken was determined that the hospice should benefit from his claim to help towards the cost of his care.

“I still find it difficult to come to terms with Ken’s death. He was exposed to asbestos years ago, but it caught up with him and took him at a time when he should have been enjoying his retirement and spending time with his family.”

Anne-Marie Christie from Thompsons Solicitors said: "Mesothelioma is a devastating disease and hospices play an important role in caring for patients with terminal illnesses. Mr Welch felt strongly that the hospice should benefit from his claim and we are pleased we have been able to help his family to fulfil his wishes.“

John Fidgett, from EllenorLions Hospices, said: “Our staff at EllenorLions Hospices work hard to provide an-all encompassing service for our patients. Every week we provide hospice care in the family home for 300 adults and 100 children, and each year 250 people receive in-hospice care at our bedded facility in Northfleet.

“Our services cost around £5m a year but are free of charge to our patients. We very much rely on donations, legacies and fundraising by the local community. This compensation and the donation from Mrs Welch will help us to continue providing these much needed services.”