A NIECE is appealing for help to establish whether her aunt was exposed to asbestos at a County Durham clothing manufacturer before her death from cancer.

Mavis Clarke, from Bishop Auckland, died after being diagnosed with mesothelioma.

A terminal cancer of the lining of the lung, mesothelioma is associated with exposure to asbestos, often decades previously.

Following her diagnosis, Mrs Clarke instructed asbestos-related disease specialists at Irwin Mitchell to investigate her illness and where her exposure to asbestos may have happened, but died before she could see the process concluded.

Her niece, Rachel Irwin, 34, has joined with the legal team in appealing for her aunt’s former colleagues at the Northern Clothing Factory to come forward with information on the working conditions at the site.

She spent ten years as a machinist at the factory on Dabble Duck Industrial Estate in Shildon, after leaving school aged 15 in 1951.

Part of her work was to make uniforms for the RAF.

She also worked at the factory in the late 1970s.

Ms Irwin has chosen to make the appeal as part of Global Asbestos Awareness Week, in remembrance of her aunt and as a warning to others about the dangers of asbestos exposure.

Her niece said: "Mavis worked hard her whole life and until her mesothelioma diagnosis, she was still in good health. News of her diagnosis came as a shock to all of us.

“It’s typical of my aunt that she didn’t take the news lying down, but sought help to find out how she could have been exposed to asbestos in the first place.

“While many of Mavis’ friends have passed away, it would mean a lot if anyone who remembers the factory, even if they don’t remember Mavis herself, could come forward.

“We know it meant a lot to her to find the answers she felt she deserved and the explanation she was entitled to.”

Helen Jones, a specialist asbestos-related disease lawyer from the Newcastle office of Irwin Mitchell added: “Mavis was no longer in contact with former colleagues when she died, but if anyone who remembers Mavis, or the working conditions at the factory could come forward, their information could prove vital as the family seek to carry out Mavis’ final wishes.”

Anyone with information that could assist with the case is asked to contact, Sonia Akram on Sonia.Akram@IrwinMitchell.com or 0191-434 0719.