A widow has received compensation from a council after the death of her husband who did not know he was exposed to asbestos.

Patricia Jolliffe, 82, who lives in Stanford-le-Hope, lost her husband Alan, aged 84, on Christmas Eve in 2014 as a result of mesothelioma – a type of cancer most commonly associated with asbestos exposure.

Alan was employed by Thurrock Council between 1946 until he retired in 1991.

From 1972, he became a general foreman and then a building surveyor until he left.

During his time with the council, Alan was unknowingly exposed to asbestos while inspecting council-owned buildings.

Owing to this exposure at work, Alan began to experience breathing problems throughout 2014, causing him to be in and out of hospital with fluid build-up in his lung.

Patricia did not know the cause of his breathing issues until he died.

A post-mortem result concluded he died of mesothelioma, brought on by asbestos inhalation.

After mesothelioma was confirmed as Alan’s cause of death, Patricia, known as Pat, spoke to her own and her late husband’s union, Unison, who instructed Thompsons Solicitors to pursue a claim.

Despite repeated attempts by Thompsons Solicitors to encourage Thurrock Council and their insurers to deal with the claim – including disclosure of evidence gathered from Alan’s former colleagues – the claim was consistently ignored.

It was only after the issuing of court proceedings in November 2017 that the council finally admitted liability for Alan’s death, leading Thompsons Solicitors to be able to negotiate a sum of compensation for the family. Pat did not wish to disclose the amount.

Pat said: “All I want is to help other victims or their families to know where to go for specialist support and advice if they find themselves in the same awful situation as me. It’s not about the money.

“Alan should not have been taken from us so soon. For me it became about making sure those responsible were held to account.

“It seems to me that the council and their insurers just hoped we would go away but Thompsons Solicitors and Unison supported me and my family all the way.”

Taking on the case was Lorna Webster, head of Thompsons Solicitors’ South East specialist asbestos team.

She said: “We are committed to our clients and we are always prepared to go the extra mile – whether that be to obtain expert evidence from specialists or to search through decades of previous cases in order to get the evidence we need to get the right result.”

Thurrock Council said they would not comment on individual cases.