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Dartford family fight for compensation for Isle of Grain worker who died of asbestos-related cancer

A grieving family is appealing for help following the death of their mother from an aggressive asbestos-related lung cancer.

Janet May Winchester, of Bean near Dartford, died on September 15, 2018, following a three-month battle with mesothelioma.

Janet May Winchester with husband Alfred
Janet May Winchester with husband Alfred

The mum-of-three worked as a clerk at George Wimpey & Co oil refinery on the Isle of Grain, Medway, from 1962 until 1968.

The plant was decommissioned in 1982.

During her time at the business, she was exposed to asbestos which was used widely throughout the industry because of its insulating and fireproof properties.

Only three months before her death at the age of 80, the grandmother-of-seven was still active and jet washing her patio, painting walls, and up ladders.

But in the July she was struck down with illness, "suffered from hallucinations" and later died.

The former oil refinery on the Isle of Grain was decommissioned in 1982. Picture: Richard Dorrell/Wikimedia Commons
The former oil refinery on the Isle of Grain was decommissioned in 1982. Picture: Richard Dorrell/Wikimedia Commons

At an inquest held at Maidstone’s County Hall on October 10, 2018, senior coroner Roger Hatch confirmed Mrs Winchester died from an industrial disease as a result of malignant mesothelioma.

Now her family are making an industrial disease compensation claim for her pain, suffering and death from mesothelioma.

Mrs Winchester’s daughter Holly Collier, of Burham, said the family were told of the cause of her death "just days before she died" and were "all very shocked and very, very angry".

She said: "We feel that she would have lived another 10 years or more as her mother and grandmother both lived well into their 90s.

"We all feel cheated. We were very shocked when she suddenly became unwell as she played a big role in all of our lives.

"Mum would still be with us now if it wasn't for the asbestos.”

"Mum would still be with us now if it wasn't for the asbestos"

Mrs Winchester’s family is appealing for anyone who worked alongside her to come forward with any information.

Jan Garvey, of the National Asbestos Helpline, said: “Asbestos diseases, such as the devastating cancer mesothelioma, take decades to develop.

"After such a long time it can be difficult to confirm where and when exposure to asbestos dust occurred, which is why we need the help of people who worked at George Wimpey & Co Ltd at the oil refinery site on the Isle of Grain.

“Did you have a clerical or administrative job? Did you work with Janet May Winchester? What were your working conditions like?

"Were you aware of asbestos that was disturbed and airborne at any of your worksites?"

  • Anyone who has information about asbestos at George Wimpey & Co Ltd during the 1960s is asked to get in touch with Jan on freephone 0800 043 6635 or email jan@nationalasbestos.co.uk with all details remaining confidential.

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