Former workers at two pottery factories after being urged to come forward in support of a gran’s compensation claim after she was struck down with lung cancer.
Sylvia Reeves has mesothelioma and says Royal Stoke University Hospital doctors have told her it has been caused by past exposure to asbestos dust and fibres.
The retired gilder worked alongside twin sister, Margaret, at Chapmans (Longton) Ltd and Aynsley China, in Longton, in the 1950s and 1960s. They were known as the Hawley twins.
Now the 79-year-old is making an industrial disease compensation claim – and needs the support of her former colleagues.
Sylvia, who now lives in Stafford, said: “I was very surprised to find out I had mesothelioma and totally devastated. I have always been fit and healthy. It has come as such a bolt out of the blue. I was an active 79-year-old with lots of living to do. I had hoped to have lots more family holidays abroad and enjoying time with my family and friends.”
Sylvia started work at Chapmans (Longton) Ltd – which was within Albert Works, in Longton – at the age of 15. She worked on a conveyor belt with boxes of tableware and painted gold patterns on cups and saucers.
She then worked at Aynsley China, in Sutherland Road, for two years from the age of 22 before becoming a carer.
Sylvia married husband, Alan, in Longton in 1962. They have a daughter, Julie, and a grandaughter.
She added: “I now suffer with fatigue and struggle with household chores. I can no longer do my own housework or shopping, and find it difficult to look after my husband, which has meant needing a lot of support from my family. My family have been devastated by my diagnosis and I’m an identical twin, so my sister is finding it very difficult.”
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The claim is being backed by the National Asbestos Helpline.
Helpline official Jan Garvey said: “Mesothelioma takes decades to develop and after such a long time it can be difficult to uncover the evidence needed to prove where and when exposure to asbestos dust occurred. To help we need to hear from former employees of Chapmans (Longton) Ltd and Aynsley China.
Aynsley China closed its Stoke-on-Trent factory in 2014. Chapmans (Longton) Ltd closed in 1966.
Anyone who can help Sylvia’s claim should call the helpline on 0800 043 6635 or email email@example.com.