THE widow of a former mechanic who died from asbestos-related cancer is raising awareness of the dangers of the substance after lawyers secured a settlement regarding his illness.

Michael Matthewson, from Lutterworth, died aged 71, 13 months after being diagnosed with mesothelioma, a terminal cancer most commonly associated with asbestos exposure.

Following his diagnosis, Mr Matthewson instructed asbestos-related disease experts at Irwin Mitchell to investigate his illness and how he came into contact with asbestos.

Prior to his death, the legal team successfully secured an undisclosed settlement from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy regarding his mesothelioma.

After the lawyers issued legal proceedings, the government department admitted liability.

It was found Mr Matthewson’s illness was attributed to asbestos exposure that occurred during his employment as a mechanic with the National Coal Board at Blyth Colliery in Northumberland where he worked as a mechanic between 1965 and 1969.

The ex-mechanic was responsible for stripping asbestos lagging from steam locomotives that transported coal and also stripped lagging in the boiler house.

His widow Marion, 65, is now marking World Cancer Day by paying tribute to her husband and warning others of the risk posed by asbestos in the workplace.

Oliver Collett, the specialist asbestos-related disease lawyer at Irwin Mitchell representing Mrs Matthewson, said: “Michael’s death is another reminder of the terrible legacy that the use of asbestos has left behind, with him only developing his illness many years after his exposure took place.

“While nothing can bring Michael back, we were pleased to have been able to settle this case so quickly in July last year, just four months after we were instructed.

"The swift settlement provided funding for Michael’s end of life care and has also given Marion some much-needed financial security while hopefully bringing some closure to the family.

“Marion has been through a terrible ordeal, losing Michael to mesothelioma, but she now has the answers and justice that Michael deserved we hope she can now attempt to move forward with her life as best she can.

“With World Cancer Day approaching, it seemed a fitting time for Marion to honour Michael’s memory and raise awareness of the dangers of asbestos.”

Prior to his illness, the couple were living in South Africa, and he was diagnosed with mesothelioma in Summer 2019.

Mr Matthewson underwent surgery to remove the lining of his lungs and subsequent chemotherapy.

The couple returned to the UK for Mr Matthewson to live out the rest of his life, before he died in September 2020.

His widow said: “Michael was the most loving husband and I still miss him every day.

"We were living in South Africa when we found out about his illness and it was such a shock to us both.

“To then find out his work was to blame was another blow, and Michael found it really difficult to accept it.

“Losing him has left a huge hole in my life and I don’t think I will ever come to terms with him not being here by my side anymore. All I can hope for now is that by sharing Michael’s story, it will remind employers and make others aware of the dangers posed by asbestos including cancer.”

World Cancer Day is on February 4, and is held annually to raise awareness of cancer and encourage its prevention, detection and treatment.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is the holder of historic liabilities for the National Coal Board.