Stephanie Rutty thinks he was exposed to the substance at work
A widow from Cornwall has issued an appeal for information following her husband's asbestos-related death.
Neal Rutty from Redruth, Cornwall, was 66 when he died of mesothelioma in August 2017, just 15 months after being diagnosed with mesothelioma – a cancer of the lining of the lungs.
His widow Stephanie has joined with legal experts to appeal for witnesses to come forward with information to help determine how he came to be exposed to the deadly substance.
In the 1970s and 1980s he had worked primarily at schools across the region on behalf of Cornwall County Council, along with outside painting of Local Authority housing in Cornwall. He worked at the Devonport Dockyard Naval Base in Plymouth between 1983 and 1986 where he was responsible for painting and decorating the boiler rooms and the changing rooms.
It is during this time that his family think he may have been exposed to asbestos.
Stephanie is now appealing for anyone who worked at the schools in Cornwall or the docks at Devonport, during this time and who may have information to come forward.
Her lawyer Helen Grady from Simpson Millar's specialist industrial disease team said: "If you worked in any schools in Cornwall during this era, either as a teacher, or a contractor, or if you worked at the Dockyards in the 80s and came across asbestos, please do get in touch as you may be able to provide vital information."
Figures released in 2019 revealed that asbestos is present in nearly half of local authority run primary schools.
Helen Grady added: "The family have so many questions about how and when Neal was exposed to asbestos, and whether more could have been done to protect him.
"While the dangers of asbestos have been known for many decades there are still, sadly, many people dying prematurely as a result of related illnesses such as mesothelioma, because they were not made aware of its presence and provided with protective equipment.
"We’re now appealing for anyone who might have information about the presence of asbestos in any school across Cornwall or at Devonport Dockyard to get in touch."
Anyone with information is asked to contact Helen Grady via e-mail: email@example.com, or on 0345 357 9600.
Stephanie Rutty said: "This has been the toughest time for me and my children. Our grand daughter, Emily, was a pupil at one of the schools Neal worked in during the 80s and she remembered seeing asbestos warning stickers during refurbishment of the science block at her school in Cornwall in 2018.
"Of course, Neal was not given any such warnings, even though the dangers were known. Neal was still so young when he died, still working, and had so much to look forward to. To watch his health deteriorate so rapidly was heart-breaking.
"It’s so sad to think that his death could have been prevented if he had been made aware of the asbestos and provided with protective equipment."
Neal sadly died at the Mount Edgecombe Hospice, Cornwall, on 16 August 2017, aged 66, where he spent his final 8 days.
Stephanie added: "Neal’s care, and the care and compassion that they showed to me at the hospice was truly outstanding and we’re grateful to the staff for everything they did during this difficult time."