AN aggressive disease claimed the lives of a former factory worker and a daughter who washed her father’s overalls, inquests have ruled.

Two separate inquests held at New Earswick Folk Hall heard how Keith Spencer, of Bishopthorpe, York, and Lynda Gontarek, of Clifton, York, both suffered from mesothelioma through their connections to York Carriageworks.

Mr Spencer’s inquest heard how he worked as a coach builder for British Rail at the York Carriage Works since leaving school until he was made redundant in 1999.

Jonathan Leach, York’s acting senior coroner, heard how the 70-year-old died from the aggressive cancer mesothelioma – an illness which has killed more than 140 people who once worked at the Holgate factory.

Mr Spencer first began to feel unwell in September 2014 and died a month later after his condition rapidly deteriorated.

Lisa Watson, Mr Spencer’s daughter, said: “My mum and I couldn’t believe how quickly my dad deteriorated; he lost a lot of weight and had to have round-the-clock care at home.

“We have always been a very close family and we have been left completely heartbroken after my dad died – my mum had been married to him for 46 years and we have all found it incredibly difficult to adjust to life without him.

Mesothelioma is a horrible illness, and it was horrendous having to watch my dad suffer in the way that he did and there was nothing we could do to help him.

“It has been extremely difficult for us to come to terms with the fact that he was exposed to asbestos throughout his entire working career and that, after all those years of service, the working conditions which he faced on a daily basis ultimately killed him.”

A separate inquest heard how Mrs Gontarek, 68, who died in February, believed she was exposed to asbestos dust while washing her late father’s overalls.

Her father had been an electrician and foreman at the Holgate factory and Mrs Gontarek first experienced symptoms of the disease in June 2014.

She was treated for a chest infection and went to see her GP after suffering from back pain and struggling to breathe.

She was admitted to York Hospital where she had an X-ray and CT scan and was later diagnosed with mesothelioma.

Jane Thompson, Lynda’s daughter, said: “The diagnosis came as such a shock particularly as my mum had never worked directly with asbestos.

“It was devastating the speed at which this dreadful disease robbed her of her life. It has left a huge hole in our lives which can never be filled.”

Specialist industrial disease lawyers have called for more to be done to highlight the devastating effect of exposure to asbestos after representing the family at York Coroner’s Court.

Nicola Handley, a specialist industrial disease lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, said: “Mesothelioma is an extremely aggressive cancer which causes a great deal of suffering to its victims. Unfortunately it still remains incurable, and means asbestos is the biggest occupational killer of all time.

“Asbestos has long been associated with heavy industry, including sites like the York Carriageworks, but sadly, we are seeing an increasing number of people being affected who have not worked directly with asbestos, such as Lynda.

“It’s shocking to see the impact illnesses such as mesothelioma have on our clients both physically and mentally.”