Lawyers recover care costs in memory of former Uckfield PE Teacher

Brian York who died in December 2015, with wife Clair

Specialist asbestos lawyers at Irwin Mitchell have secured a payment of £12,000 on behalf of a hospice as part of the settlement for the family of a former PE teacher from Uckfield who died of cancer.

Brian York, died aged 63, in December 2015 after losing his battle with mesothelioma, a form of cancer linked to exposure to asbestos decades earlier.

Brian had been an inpatient at St Wilfrid’s Hospice in Eastbourne for around two months before his death.

The hospice has now received £12,022.55 from Irwin Mitchell as part of a legal case after Brian was exposed to asbestos whilst working as a PE Teacher and head of year at Imberhorne School in East Grinstead.

Irwin Mitchell acted on behalf of his widow, Clair, 61, of Uckfield, to secure the substantial sum in relation to the cost of Brian’s care at St Wilfrid’s Hospice.

The funds recovered on behalf of the hospice follow a landmark ruling in a 2010 case led by Irwin Mitchell which ruled that the insurers of a company responsible for the death of a worker from an asbestos-related disease should contribute to the cost of the care provided to the victim by their hospice.

Clair, a former teacher, said: “The staff at St Wilfrid’s provided invaluable support at a time when we needed it most. I’m pleased that Irwin Mitchell was able to recover this money on behalf of the hospice so that it can continue the vital work it does for people across the region. Brian too really wanted to ensure that the hospice recovered its costs as both of us felt so strongly that it should be rewarded for all its hard work and dedication.”

In addition to the donation, Clair volunteers at the hospice as a ward clerk on a regular basis, and has taken part in sponsored events in order to raise funds to support St Wilfrid’s.

Clair has also worked alongside the Hampshire Asbestos Support and Awareness Group (HASAG) to launch a monthly coffee morning support group at the Civic Centre in Uckfield, which held its first meeting on Tuesday 13 February.

HASAG provides free support, guidance and information to people with asbestos diseases and the charity runs regular coffee mornings across the South of England, South East, London and Home Counties.

Clair hopes that the new Uckfield support group will keep Brian’s legacy alive whilst helping others who have been affected by the same condition. Key people from hospitals and hospices across Tunbridge Wells, Hayward’s Heath, Eastbourne, Brighton and Hastings will attend the group to provide advice and help to those with cancer, their families and friends.

Natalia Rushworth-White, the specialist asbestos-related disease lawyer at Irwin Mitchell’s London office who acted for Clair, said: “I am delighted we have been able to settle Clair’s case and help support the hospice where Brian received his care.

“By providing St Wilfrid’s Hospice with this money and with Clair linking up with the HASAG team, individuals and their families will be able to access the essential support they need. Following the devastating loss of her husband from exposure to asbestos working as a teacher, it is incredible to see Clair making such a difference on behalf of all asbestos victims.

“Our clients are always very clear that where possible, they want to benefit the hospice where they were looked after by excellent carers and we will continue to assist wherever we can.”

Colin Twomey, from St Wilfrid’s added ‘‘St Wilfrid’s hospice is incredibly grateful to Clair, who has spent so much time and energy making it possible for the hospice to receive the fantastic sum of over £12,000.

“We are also grateful for the words of support and appreciation that Clair has written in which she speaks so highly of the care and support which she and Brian received at this time.

“Clair’s continuing support of the work here at the hospice means that we are able to care for more patients and get closer to more people who are at the end of life and who, along with their families and friends, are facing some of the most difficult days of their lives.”

Clair is set to hand over the money to the hospice at a special presentation ceremony at the hospice on 4 April.