Wife’s anguish as dying man wins payout

Asbestos caused Raymond Webber's cancer
Asbestos caused Raymond Webber's cancer
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A wife has described the heartache of knowing her husband could die any day from an aggressive cancer caused by his exposure to asbestos decades earlier.

Doctors delivered the devastating news that father-of-five Raymond Webber, 62, had less than 12 months to live in April last year.

Speaking after winning a legal action against her husband’s former employer, Tina, 59, spoke about the torment of waking up each morning fearing it might be his last.

She said: “It’s heartbreaking to know your husband is planning his own funeral.

“When we first got the diagnosis, there was almost a sense of relief that we finally knew what was wrong, and we had some timeframe to plan around. But knowing he’s living on borrowed time is a great strain.

“I wake up wondering if today might be his last. When he’s having a really bad day and he’s off his food and doesn’t want to drink, you fear this might be the end.

“We used to go on holiday together, stay away at weekends. But this illness has stripped him of his strength. He’s lost two stone in the last couple of weeks.”

Mr Webber, of Langdale Road, Blackpool, has now been awarded significant damages against the London Pensions Fund Authority.

The grandfather had been a joiner between 1974 and 1978, maintaining and refurbishing local authority properties across London, including in Camberwell, Oval and Bethnal Green, for what was then known as the Greater London Council.

He was expected to cut asbestos sheets to size using a handsaw. The atmosphere was thick with the deadly dust.

The tradesmen swept up the piles of asbestos dust which gathered on the work surfaces and floors without being given breathing equipment. The couple, who have been married for 29 years, moved from their home in south Wimbledon, London, 30 years ago to set up a guesthouse in Blackpool, which they ran for 17 years.

Mr Webber developed a persistent cough just after Christmas 2012. The CT scan revealed mesothelioma caused by the asbestos fibres in the lungs.

Mrs Webber, a kitchen assistant at a local hospital, added: “It’s infuriating to think that my husband has been given a death sentence, all because he worked hard and did an honest day’s living.

“Raymond is very bitter. He feels betrayed. He wasn’t warned about how dangerous the work was.

“He would come home covered in asbestos dust and I’d clean his overalls. I daren’t think about what I’ve breathed in over the years.”

The family’s lawyer Louise Larkin, of Slater & Gordon, said: “The dangers posed by asbestos were well known at the time when Mr Webber was working with it.

“Unfortunately, he was given no warning of the hazards, or provided with adequate protection, whilst still expected to come into daily contact with such a hazardous substance. Just a short exposure to asbestos dust can be enough to cause cancer.

“At a time when Mr and Mrs Webber should be preparing for a long and happy retirement, they are confronting this appalling illness.”