Family search for answers following death of North Shields office worker from asbestos-related cancer

The family of a popular church organist and office worker have told the Chronicle of their shock at his asbestos death.

Retired payroll manager Paul Johnson, from North Shields, lost his fight against mesothelioma at the age of 77, earlier last year.

The asbestos-related cancer is more often diagnosed among tradespeople who have come into contact with the harmful fibres, while working on building sites or in industrial settings.

But Peter believed he was exposed to asbestos at the now closed Armstrong Whitworths, later known as Thor Power Tools, in North Shields where he worked from 1958 to 1960.

Now his daughter, Joy Toner-Johnson has taken over his fight for justice, and is hoping to trace some of her late dad’s former colleagues.

And the 43-year-old has told of her shock at discovering her office worker father was suffering from an industrial disease. She said:

We were blown away by the diagnosis. Dad never worked in an industrial setting – we couldn’t make sense of what we were hearing.

My dad was also really clean-living – he was a devout Methodist, had never smoked a cigarette or touched a drop of alcohol.

Peter, who was a church organist and popular community figure, was diagnosed with the disease in August last year after fluid was found on his lungs. Less than a year later he lost his battle with the deadly disease.

Industrial disease lawyer Madelene Holdsworth from Slater and Gordon is pursuing the case on behalf of Mr Johnson’s family. She said:

One of the most basic things employees should expect from their bosses is that they will be kept as safe as reasonably possible.

Peter’s family are rightly furious that this act could have led to a beloved husband, father, grandfather and friend dying early which is why we really need to hear from anyone who worked at Thor around the same time he did.