South Yorkshire deaths from cancer linked to asbestos increase

Antony Eyre, diagnosed with mesothelioma
Antony Eyre, diagnosed with mesothelioma

The number of deaths caused by mesothelioma has increased in South Yorkshire, new figures reveal.

Figures released by the Office of National Statistics show that in Sheffield 30 people died in 2014 from the condition – a type of cancer that most often starts in the covering of the lungs .

Antony, on his wedding day in 1961 at Wickersley Church. He was 22 at the time, and had already been working at Park Gate for seven years

Antony, on his wedding day in 1961 at Wickersley Church. He was 22 at the time, and had already been working at Park Gate for seven years

There were 12 deaths recorded in Doncaster, 11 in Rotherham and five in Barnsley.

Numbers were down in Doncaster and Barnsley but the overall pattern showed an increase of 11 per cent in South Yorkshire.

Mesothelioma has been linked to the exposure to asbestos.

Antony Eyre, aged 75, was diagnosed with mesothelioma a month ago after a persistent cough prompted him to visit a doctor.

Antony started working as a pipe fitter at Park Gate Iron and Steel Company in Rotherham when he was just 15.

He claims he was exposed to asbestos by ‘continuously breaking up pipes for the furnaces’.

Antony spent 14 years there until he moved to Zambia in 1968. He went on to run his own construction and civil engineering business in South Africa.

The father­-of-­two has moved back to Swinton to stay with his older sister while he receives treatment.

Antony, who has had to give up his favourite pasttime fishing, said: “I can’t breathe properly. It’s just ruining my retirement life.

“It’s stopped me from tuna fishing. I spent nearly two million rand, over £95,000, on boats and equipment.”

The Parkgate site was closed in 1985, and the company was bought by Corus, now known as Tata Steel, the second largest steel­maker in Europe.

Howard Bonnett, a solicitor specialising in industrial disease claims, said: “In South Yorkshire we deal with a higher level of exposure of asbestos disease and death than the national average.

“Age is no guarantee you will not be affected. In the past year alone I have dealt with and settled cases for a 90 and 93­-year-­old man.”

Howard said: “I hope that whilst we can do nothing to stop or cut down the number of people who will go on to develop this condition we can at least hope that they and their families will be properly compensated.”

More than 2,500 people are diagnosed in the UK each year and the number of cases is expected to rise, especially among those aged 75 and above.

Asbestos was heavily used in industries such as shipbuilding and construction after World War Two. Those exposed before the age of 30 are also at high risk.