Two brothers are appealing for help amid fears their mum’s death was linked to washing their dad’s work clothes before his death from an asbestos related disease.

Joan Davies, from Pembroke, died aged 89 from mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the lung associated with exposure to asbestos often decades previously. Her husband David had already died from the same cancer 10 years earlier at the age of 89.

Following his mum’s death, son, Jeff Davies (61) instructed expert asbestos-related disease lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate how his mum and dad were exposed to the hazardous material. They are investigating whether Joan’s illness was linked to washing David’s work clothes.

Ahead of this year’s Workers’ Memorial Day on April 28, Jeff and his brother Chris (63) have joined with their legal team to pay tribute to their parents. They’re also appealing to their dad’s former workmates for information on the working conditions he faced.

They are keen to trace anyone who worked with David for the Central Electricity Generating Board (CEGB) in Gabalfa between 1955 and 1969 and then Pembroke Power Station between 1969 and 1982.

Alexandra Lausen, the specialist asbestos-related disease lawyer supporting Jeff and Chris, said:Having to watch their mum lose her fight with the same cancer which caused their dad’s death has left Jeff, Chris and the rest of their family devastated.

“While many of the cases we deal with are related to occupational exposure to asbestos, situations where family members experience secondary exposure to asbestos are sadly far more common than people may realise.

“Following their dad’s death from mesothelioma, Jeff and Chris have a number of concerns and questions as to how their mum was exposed to asbestos, leading her to suffer the same cause of death as her husband.

“We’re determined to help Jeff and Chris in their search for answers. If David’s former work colleagues could come forward, it would be a huge help in providing some closure for a family who have suffered such a terrible double tragedy.

"Through our work we often deal with cases involving women who are shocked to learn that their illness is asbestos related, particularly when they haven’t worked in industries which are typically associated with the material. Jeff and Chris hope that by sharing their story they can also encourage other women in their mum’s position to seek the help and support they are entitled to”.

David started work for the CEGB in 1955 and was initially based at the company’s headquarters in Gabalfa. Working in the Test and Efficiency Department, David’s role involved setting up instruments to measure heat, vibration, vacuum and airflow. David told his sons he removed lagging from pipework, either by drilling or cutting into it, so that temperature sensors could be attached to the surfaces for testing. He explained to his sons that the lagging contained asbestos.

In 1969, the family moved to Monkton in Pembrokeshire, as David was one of the CEGB team assigned to Pembroke Power Station which was still under construction. David worked in close proximity to other tradesmen such as laggers who were applying asbestos lagging to pipework and equipment around the power station. 

David’s role at the power station was as an Instrument Technician, which meant that if an engineer could not fix a problem, David’s had to make a new part. He often had to remove lagging from pipework and machinery to access the section or part in need of repair or replacement. Jeff has clear recollections of his dad coming home covered in dust and that his mum was always busy shaking out and washing his work overalls on a regular basis until David’s retirement in 1982.

Joan and David Davies, Pembroke
(Pic. supplied)

Joan and David met in 1948 and married in 1955. The couple had three sons together, Greg, Chris and Jeff, although Greg has sadly passed away. Joan had a desk job working for Pembroke County Council for over 20 years. She had always enjoyed good health until she began to feel unwell in May 2022 with pains in her back and chest. Initially, tests were inconclusive but she was eventually diagnosed with mesothelioma at the end of June 2022. Joan sadly passed away less than a month later on July 17, 2022, 10 years after David died from the same cancer, in May 2012. 

Joan and David were a fit and active couple and in addition to spending time with their family, they enjoyed foreign travel and travelled to Australia 15-20 times to visit family members, including their son Chris. They also enjoyed regular skiing holidays. 

They both enjoyed gardening and socialising and belonged to a number of local groups including gardening club, the maritime organisation and Probus (a local association of retired and semi-retired professional and business people). David was a keen golfer and had been Chairman and Captain of the South Pembs Golf Club. 

Both he and Joan spent as much time as they could with their eight grandchildren and Joan had the pleasure of having five great grandchildren. Joan and David were also a practical and creative couple, so much so that they built their own home shortly after moving to Pembrokeshire in 1969.

Joan and David Davies, Pembroke
(Pic. supplied)

Jeff said: “Mum had always been fit and active and her diagnosis and death from mesothelioma was a real shock. It seemed unbelievable that she could have died from the same disease as dad did ten years earlier.

“From discussion with the doctors, we heard about secondary asbestos exposure. After the move to Pembroke, dad always came home covered in dust. Mum made him remove his overalls outside or in the garage and shook or beat them to remove the worst of the dust before washing them.

“Dad had several sets of overalls and the dust was so bad that mum was cleaning them every few days. It’s terrible to think that by doing that for all those years, it is very likely that she was exposed to the asbestos that led to her death.

“Hopefully we can reach some of dad’s old workmates and get some of the answers the family deserves about mum’s asbestos exposure. Nothing can bring mum or dad back to us, but it would be good to get some answers and closure for an amazing couple, neither of whom deserved to have their lives cut short in this way”.

Anyone with information that could help Jeff, Chris and the rest of the Davies family is asked to contact Alexandra Lausen at Irwin Mitchell on 0117 926 1554 or email [email protected].

David and Joan Davies, Pembroke
(Pic. supplied)

Workers’ Memorial Day on April 28 remembers those who have died as a result of their employment, and campaigns to improve health and safety standards in the workplace and increase protection for employees.