Express & Star

Widow of former West Bromwich scrap metal worker appeals for help over asbestos exposure

The family of a former scrap metal worker and crane driver are appealing for help to establish how he contracted the asbestos-related cancer which claimed his life.

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Bob France

Bob France, who grew up in Dudley, died months after being diagnosed with mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the lung commonly associated with exposure to asbestos, often decades previously.

Following the 70-year-old’s death, his wife, Lesley, 60, instructed specialist asbestos-related disease lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate how Bob developed the illness.

Lesley, of West Bromwich, has now joined her legal team in appealing for anyone who worked with Bob to come forward and provide information on whether he may have been exposed to asbestos during his working life.

Bob worked in the demolition and scrap trade in the Darlaston and Brierley Hill areas.

Lesley and her legal team are particularly keen to hear from people who may have worked with Bob at Chas.B.Pugh in Darlaston, Walsall, between the late 1970s and the mid-1980s.

Stephen Fitzwalter, the specialist asbestos-related disease lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, representing Lesley, said: “This is sadly another case which puts the spotlight on the devastating impact of asbestos exposure, with the true consequences only becoming clear years after contact has taken place.

Bob France with Lesley on their wedding day

"Lesley and the rest of Bob's family remain devastated by his death. Understandably they have a number of questions regarding how Bob was exposed to the asbestos that claimed his life.

"Through our initial investigations, we're led to believe that Bob was probably exposed to asbestos working for scrap and demolition companies in Darlaston and Brierley Hill. Bob recalled handling, cleaning, and removing pipework.

“We're determined to support Lesley as she seeks the answers to Bob’s asbestos exposure in his memory. Lesley would be so grateful if anyone with information that could help could come forward. Any detail could prove vital in ensuring she gets the answers she deserves.”

Bob France

Bob, who had a love of motorbikes, began showing symptoms of a persistent cough, chest pain and shortness of breath.

Following tests he was diagnosed with mesothelioma in April 2020.

He died on October 28 that same year.

Lesley said: “Bob was a wonderful man and didn’t deserve to have his life ended by this terrible illness.

"Despite the time that has passed, I’m not sure I can ever fully get over losing my husband and just how much I still miss seeing him and hearing his voice at home.

“Bob was a kind and hardworking man. He tried to remain strong for his family and it was awful seeing him suffer at the end as the cancer got the better of him.

“It’s not been easy but I feel I owe it to Bob to find out how he came to be exposed to asbestos and get the answers he now can never seek to find for himself.

“We didn’t get much time together in those last weeks before his death to discuss his work history in any detail. Bob said that he encountered asbestos in his career but if any of his old workmates could come forward and help us, I would be so grateful.”

Anyone with information which could help Lesley is asked to contact Stephen Fitzwalter at Irwin Mitchell on 07795 915 567 or email