THE family of an engineer from North Yorkshire who died from asbestos-related cancer have given a York hospice a welcome funding boost.

Stuart Raggett died aged 76 from mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the lungs most commonly associated with exposure to asbestos, often decades previously.

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Following his diagnosis, Stuart instructed specialist asbestos-related disease lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate how he came to develop the disease. After he died, his family continued the case and his legal team went on to secure an undisclosed settlement from one of his former employers.

In addition, a previous landmark judgment secured by Irwin Mitchell also meant that costs relating to the care that Stuart received from St Leonard’s Hospice could be recovered. The sum recovered amounted to around £10,400, with Stuart’s family using their own funds to bump the amount up to £20,000, which has been passed to the charity.

Oliver Collett, the asbestos-related disease expert at Irwin Mitchell who supported Stuart’s loved ones, said: “Hospices carry out amazing work providing vital support to patients and their families at the most difficult of times.

“We’re therefore delighted to have been able to help Stuart’s loved ones give something back to St Leonard’s which will help the incredible staff there can continue to do what they do best. It’s also a fitting way for Stuart’s family to say thank you to the people who looked after him during his last days.

“However, it’s also important to highlight that this case is yet another reminder of the terrible legacy left behind by asbestos and the need for employers to ensure the safety of their staff.”

York Press: Stuart Raggett died aged 76 from mesotheliomaStuart Raggett died aged 76 from mesothelioma (Image: Supplied)

Stuart was born and grew up Surrey and worked as an engineer for various employers.

In August 2020, Stuart began to suffer from shortness of breath and right-sided chest pain. His condition deteriorated and, in January 2021, he underwent tests including a CT scan. He was subsequently diagnosed with mesothelioma.

His symptoms worsened over the following months and Stuart was admitted to hospital. He was thereafter transferred to St Leonard’s Hospice. He died in June 2021.

At the time of his death, Stuart lived in Tadcaster with his wife of 51 years, Rita. The couple had four sons – Martin, 51, Jonathan, 49, David, 45, and Thomas, 36 – and four grandchildren.

Rita, 73, said: “Having to watch Stuart deteriorate knowing there was nothing I could do was heart-breaking. We were soul mates and he fought every single day so we could be together, but sadly he died just a few months after being diagnosed.

“Coming to terms with losing him has been incredibly difficult for us all and I still struggle with it to this day.

“Finding out that his work was likely to blame was a shock for Stuart and he was taken from us before he could get the answers he sought. We were therefore determined to do this for him.

“To also be able to say thank you to the staff at St Leonard’s for their kindness and empathy means a lot to us.

"What they do for families is invaluable and we wouldn’t have got through everything without their support.

"We hope the funding will allow them to continue helping other families in similar situations to us.

“However, it’s also important for employers to remember that asbestos is still a very real threat and they should be doing what they need to keep their workers safe.”

Dr Bill Hulme, the medical director at St Leonard’s Hospice, said: “We are extremely grateful to Rita and her family, and to the team at Irwin Mitchell, for their efforts on behalf of Stuart and the hospice.

"The recovery of the costs of Stuart’s case in this case, alongside the generosity of his family, means that more patients and their loved ones will get the care and support they need when they need it most.”