Family of asbestos cancer worker make plea to his former Swansea factory colleagues

The family of a former Gorseinon factory worker is appealing for help from his former colleagues after he died from asbestos related lung cancer. John Duncan Boulter, worked at the old JB Furs site on Garngoch Common more than 40 years ago.

His family claim he developed the disease around 45 years after breathing in asbestos dust and fibres while working at the factory’s dry section operating heated polishing machines that stretched and buffed sheepskins.

The National Asbestos Helpline and Birchall Blackburn Law are working with his family to trace anyone who worked for JB Furs during the 1960s and 1970s.

They say former employees who knew or worked with – or near – Mr Boulter at the time, may have vital information about the presence of asbestos within the factory and how he was exposed to the material.

Mr Boulter began to feel unwell towards the end of October last year, shortly after his 65th birthday. He started to lose energy, had chest pains and lost his appetite.

After hospital tests and procedures to drain excess fluid from his chest, lung cancer was suspected and in January of this year he was diagnosed with mesothelioma. In less than three months he had gone from celebrating his birthday as a fit and healthy man to being discharged from hospital with weeks to live.

His daughter, who wishes to remain anonymous, said:

“We had no idea at the time it was mesothelioma. He was feeling a lot more tired and we all assumed he was just getting old – but it was the cancer.

It has hit my mum more than anyone and it’s been a big change for her. They spent all their time together and did almost everything as a couple. It’s been strange for us all to get our head around it. We’ve never lost anyone so close to us all before and it’s difficult. It happened so quickly and we miss him dearly.”

Mr Boulter had not thought about retirement until he became seriously ill in October. His family say he was an active man who liked to play and holiday with his grandchildren, go fishing, play the odd round of golf and go walking with his wife.

Joan Kennedy, an industrial disease specialist with Birchall Blackburn Law, said:

“Mesothelioma takes decades to develop, which can deny people the justice they deserve. After such a long time it can be difficult to uncover the evidence needed to find out where and when exposure to asbestos dust occurred. We need help from Duncan’s friends and former colleagues. Otherwise a hardworking man and his family, who should have been looking forward to a long and happy retirement together, will get no justice.”

Jan Garvey, from the National Asbestos Helpline, added:

“Mesothelioma is a cruel and aggressive lung cancer. It is devastating a generation of people who have worked hard all their lives and should be looking forward to a happy retirement. Not enough is being done by the government and insurance companies to help victims and their families – and we need more funding for research into more effective treatments.”

The Department of Work and Pensions says that 53,000 people will eventually die from mesothelioma between 2013 and 2037 in the UK.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) show that more than 150 in the Swansea area and more than 1,600 throughout Wales have died from the asbestos-related lung cancer between 1981 and 2011.

Anyone who knows about the presence of asbestos at JB Furs in Gorseinon in the 1960s and 1970s, is asked to call Joan Kennedy from Birchall Blackburn Law on 01244 684 475 or at 

Alternatively they can call Jan Garvey at the National Asbestos Helpline on freephone 0800 043 6635.