A Cheshire widow has announced her plans to set up a support group to help those affected by mesothelioma on the day of her husbands’ inquest.

Gill Willcocks from Crewe will create the Dave Willcocks Asbestos Victim Support Group(DWAVSG) after her husband died from devastating cancer of the lining of the lung, mesothelioma in October last year.

Dave was 61 when he died from the disease, which is caused by exposure to asbestos.

Exposed to asbestos at work

He was exposed to the deadly dust while working for ICI at the Wallerscote works in Northwich, Cheshire from 1970 to 1973.

While caring for Dave, Gill vowed to help other people affected by mesothelioma by providing more information and advice on the disease.

Her plans will be announced at the inquest into her husbands’ death, being held at Crewe Coroners Court, at The Municipal Buildings, in Crewe, Cheshire before the HM Coroner for Cheshire, Mr Rheinburgh, at 10am on Tuesday, September 9.

She said: “Whilst caring for Dave I decided that I would start a support group for asbestos victims in my area so that I can share my experience. My aim is help other people to get information that they might need to help them through this most distressing time.

“I felt it was poignant to announce my intentions on the day of Dave’s inquest to bring home to people how asbestos can destroy the lives of families across the UK.”

Help for anyone affected by asbestos related diseases

The DWAVSG will help anyone in South and Mid Cheshire, Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire areas who have been affected by asbestos related diseases.

The group will help families to gain practical support and advice. It has strong links with local chest consultants and the cancer specialist nursing team at the Respiratory Disease unit at Leighton Hospital, as well as maintaining contact with other asbestos support groups around the UK.

The group will also put victims in touch with experts that can help them apply for benefits and compensation.

Campaign to improve access to treatments, benefits and compensation

Gill said the group will meet regularly to provide warm and friendly environment for sufferers and their families to meet and share their experiences.

She added: “We want to provide an environment where those suffering from asbestos related diseases and their families can gain support on a practical and emotional level.

“We will raise awareness about asbestos related disease and will campaign to improve access to treatments, benefits and compensation.

“Asbestos related diseases are not going away but we hope by setting up this group that we can help alleviate a little of the devastation they cause to families across South Cheshire, Stoke on Trent and Staffordshire.

DWAVSG has approached asbestos claims specialists Thompsons Solicitors for support. Thompsons represented Dave and Gill in the claim for compensation against ICI.

Terry Loughrey, solicitor and head of the Thompsons Solicitors Midlands Asbestos Team based in Stoke-on-Trent said: “The death toll and personal tragedy in the Cheshire, Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent area from asbestos related disease has been devastating. It has affected countless victims and their families.

“It is a depressing reality that this death toll is simply not going to abate before many more lives have been lost. This new support group will be an asset to the community and will help many families to deal with the devastating effects of asbestos related disease."

This news story was also published by the Crewe and Nantwich Guardian and The Sentinel.