THE family of a County Durham woman who died from asbestos-related cancer is urging some of her former colleagues to come forward to help shed light on how she was exposed to the deadly material.

Cynthia Burnip was employed by Alexandre Ltd, a garment manufacturer in Peterlee, for a decade from 1956 to 1966.

She worked as a sewing machinist, and it is believed that she may have encountered asbestos during her employment at what was commonly known as the ‘Alexandre factory’ in the town.

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After leaving work, Cynthia seemingly lived a relatively healthy life, until she was diagnosed with Mesothelioma in April 2021 and died in May at the age of 81.

Cynthia’s death rocked her family, including her sons Andrew and Paul, who are now searching for answers about work-related illness.

The Northern Echo: The family of Cynthia Burnip are looking to track down any former colleagues of hers that worked for Alexandre Ltd in Peterlee from 1956 to 1966.The family of Cynthia Burnip are looking to track down any former colleagues of hers that worked for Alexandre Ltd in Peterlee from 1956 to 1966.

Her son, Andrew Burnip, said: “When mum talked about her days as a seamstress, she recalled the large presses that would steam the suits she was stitching.

“These presses sat alongside the tables the women worked at and would go off every few minutes to press the suits before packing. It is possible that these presses were insulated with some sort of asbestos, and that is what we are trying to find out.

“She was a very active older lady who loved walking with friends – and would even do a popular five-mile walk around her hometown on occasions.

“She was sweet and kind and loved shopping and eating out with friends – but more than anything, she was devoted to her family."

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Following her death, Cynthia’s family have sought the help of Thompsons Solicitors to find out what caused her untimely death.

They are now determined to get to the bottom of their loved one’s untimely death.

Mr Burnip added: “In the spring of last year, she began to feel unwell with a cough and breathing difficulties. She was diagnosed with Mesothelioma in April, and within a month, she was viciously taken away from us.”

“My dad was a local councillor for years and a big union man. He would want those who were responsible to be held accountable.”

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Stuart Latham, of Thompsons Solicitors, said: “We are looking to speak with anyone who was employed at Alexandre Ltd’s Peterlee site in or around the 1960’s who may be able to provide further information into working practices at the site.

"It’s really important that Mrs Burnip’s family get the answers they deserve.”

Thompsons Solicitors has confirmed that this is purely an appeal for people to come forward at this stage, and no legal proceedings have begun.

The Northern Echo has approached the solicitors to look into Alexandre Ltd from Peterlee, with the company no longer existing on Companies House, and therefore can't be approached for comment.

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