Appeal over Somersham man’s asbestos-related death

Basil Gibbons with wife Joan, left, and cousin Kitty

Basil Gibbons with wife Joan, left, and cousin Kitty - Credit: Archant

The family of a retired agricultural engineer from Somersham who died from an asbestos-related cancer are trying to find out how he came into contact with the substance during his working life.

Basil Gibbons, 89, was described as being “very fit” before developing mesothelioma which led to his death in 2017.

His family has instructed specialist asbestos-related disease lawyers from Irwin Mitchell to investigate how he developed the condition, a form of lung cancer, which is associated with exposure to asbestos.

They are appealing for information about working conditions at two firms where Mr Gibbons worked and would like to hear from former workmates.

Mr Gibbons, a former church warden, had worked for Mann Egerton in Ipswich on various dates between 1942 and 1989 and Whitlock in Hadleigh from 1950-1960.

Basil’s son, Keith Gibbons, said: “Dad was always very fit and he was a church warden for around 30 years prior to his illness.

“It was very difficult to see the impact that mesothelioma had on him. His allotment was his pride and joy, but sadly after his diagnosis he was unable to maintain it as he would have liked.

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“While nothing will ever bring him back, we are keen to get justice in his memory. If anyone is able to help with information or detail regarding asbestos at these two sites it would be hugely appreciated.”

Samantha Shaw, solicitor and asbestos-related disease expert at Irwin Mitchell’s Cambridge office who is representing Basil’s family, said: “Our clients remain understandably devastated by their loss.

“His story is yet another which highlights how the tragic consequences of asbestos exposure often become clear many years after the initial contact with the material is thought to have taken place.

“We would be grateful to anyone who may have information regarding the presence of asbestos at these two employers, as such detail could go some way towards us securing justice for this family.”

Mr Gibbons was employed as an agricultural engineer during his time at Mann Egerton in the 1940s and his job involved him working on a range of large machinery, including tractors, and he then used those skills in a similar capacity at Whitlock.

Anyone with information regarding this case can contact Samantha Shaw at Irwin Mitchell’s Cambridge office on 01223 791 815 or email