Widow’s appeal to former Steel City workers

EX-steelworkers are being asked to get in touch with the widow of a man who died just a month after being diagnosed with the asbestos-related disease mesothelioma.

Keith Furniss, from Sheffield, died in September 2011 at the age of 72.

Now, Glenis Furniss is asking Mr Furniss’s former colleagues to get in touch as they may know “how and why he came into contact with the deadly dust.”

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Before his death, Mr Furniss told Ms Furniss – his partner of 13 years – that he remembered working with asbestos during his career at steelworks Jessop-Saville Ltd, where he worked as a labourer from 1954 to 1967, and Sheffield Corporation where he worked in the public works department from 1967 to 1973.

Ms Furniss, from Lower Walkley, has now instructed specialist industrial disease lawyers at Irwin Mitchell, who are appealing for Mr Furniss’s ex-colleagues to come forward.

Simone Hardy, a lawyer at Irwin Mitchell’s Sheffield office, said: “Unfortunately, we know very little about the roles Keith did at Sheffield Corporation and Jessop-Saville Ltd steelworks but we hope his ex-colleagues can help shed some light on the working conditions he endured and the asbestos exposure that ultimately led to his death.

Mesothelioma is an aggressive and incurable cancer and causes so much distress to victims like Keith and their families.”

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She added: “People have the right to work in a safe environment without the risk of illness and we hope our investigations can finally help Glenis obtain the justice she deserves.”

Mr Furniss first started to show the symptoms of mesothelioma in the Christmas of 2010, when he complained of flu-like symptoms.

He developed pneumonia and had fluid drained from his lungs.

Mr Furniss was admitted to the Northern General Hospital in Sheffield in summer 2011 and later told that he was suffering from mesothelioma, an incurable cancer linked to asbestos exposure, and had just weeks to live.

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On September 27, 2011 he was admitted to St Luke’s Hospice in Whirlow, Sheffield, but died a day later.

An inquest was held in Sheffield in May last year where deputy coroner Julian Fox recorded a verdict of death due to industrial disease caused by exposure to asbestos.

Ms Furniss, 57, said: “We were absolutely devastated when doctors said Keith was suffering from mesothelioma and that he had just a few weeks left.

“I don’t think I’ll ever get over his life being cut short so suddenly in such a terrible way.

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“I’ve lost my soulmate to this illness and that’s why I’m determined to find out more about how he came to be exposed to the asbestos and why.”

Anyone with information that could help the Furniss family should contact Ms Hardy on 0114 274 4420 or email [email protected].

Meanwhile, tributes were being paid yesterday to Rotherham Markets’ longest-serving trader, who has died aged 93.

Norman Fulwood from Greasbrough, a World War Two veteran, had been a horticulture trader at the markets for more than 60 years.

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At the time of his death, he was preparing bedding plants to sell on the market this season.

Markets manager Robin Lambert said yesterday: “Norman will be sadly missed by everyone at the market.

“He was one of life’s characters whose passion for market trading was matched only by his knowledge of all things botanical - something which he was always more than happy to share with his customers.”

Fellow trader Andy Albon added: “Those of us who had the good fortune to work alongside him will be lesser for his passing.”

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