Man seeks justice for tragic brother

Christopher Atkins with his dog Brandy pictured before his death in 2008 from cancer.
Christopher Atkins with his dog Brandy pictured before his death in 2008 from cancer.

EX-WORKMATES of a former man, who died after developing an asbestos-related cancer, have been asked to come forward and help in a legal battle for justice.

Christopher Atkins (63) died in June 2008 less than a year after being diagnosed with mesothelioma, a fatal cancer of the lung lining which develops as a result of inhaling asbestos dust.

His brother Michael Atkins (71) of Welton Court is now pursuing legal action against Christopher’s former employers, RA Wilson & Son and Fred Lythe & Sons, where he worked as a joiner for 35 years. Neither firm exists any more.

The family is also trying to trace the insurers of both companies.

Following his death, a minute’s silence was held at Whitby Cricket Club, where he played for the first and second XIs.

Michael, who is being represented by industrial illness experts at Irwin Mitchell, said: “I took Christopher to most of his hospital appointments and it was terrible to see him deteriorate so quickly over that time.

“He was a proud man who worked hard all of his life and to think now that he developed mesothelioma as a result is just awful.”

Christopher – who lived in Whitby all his life and also played football for Whitby Albion – began working at RA Wilson and Sons on leaving school and then went to work for Fred Lythe & Sons, in White Point Avenue, aged 19.

It is believed he was exposed to asbestos when he carried out joinery work for both companies.

Christopher’s solicitor Ian Toft, of national law firm Irwin Mitchell, said it was vital former workers at RA Wilson and Lythe & Sons came forward to help his client.

Mr Toft said: “Mesothelioma is an extremely aggressive cancer which causes great suffering to the victim and their families.

“We need to hear from ex-employees to give more insight into the working conditions at RA Wilson & Son and F Lythe & Son and give his family a better understanding of how exactly Christopher contracted this dreadful disease.

“We would particularly like to hear from anyone with information about the employer liability insurers for F Lythe & Sons and RA Wilson as the companies are now defunct.”

Christopher fell ill in September 2007 and was found to have fluid on his lungs. An X-ray revealed he had lung cancer and he underwent five days of radiotherapy treatment at The Prince’s Royal Hospital in Hull.

His condition deteriorated rapidly at the end of May 2008 and he died in Whitby Hospital on 5 June, aged 69.

A coroner later recorded a verdict of death by industrial disease.

“Christopher became pretty depressed after the diagnosis and his appetite completely disappeared during the radiotherapy so he lost quite a bit of weight.

His body effectively couldn’t cope with the cancer,” said Michael, who also lives in Whitby.

“He was a very keen sports player and then a fan as he got older and it was lovely gesture for the cricket club to hold a minute’s silence in his honour – it just shows how well regarded he was.”

Anyone who can help is asked to call Ian Toft at Irwin Mitchell on (0870) 1500 100 or email