Investigation into Sheffield worker's cancer death who helped build city's University Arts Tower

Peter Garvey and the Sheffield University Arts Tower under construction
Peter Garvey and the Sheffield University Arts Tower under construction

The widow of a carpenter who helped build Sheffield’s iconic university arts tower is appealing to his former work mates for information following his death from asbestos-related cancer.

Pamela Garvey, from Worrall, Sheffield, instructed lawyers to investigate after her husband Peter death from mesothelioma, a cancer in the lining of the lungs.

Peter died on 11 November 2015, when he was aged 70, 11 months after his diagnosis.

His heartbroken wife believes Peter was exposed to asbestos while working on the Sheffield University Arts Tower project between 1964 and 1965. Mesothelioma, a terminal illness, takes decades to develop following exposure to the harmful fibres.

Peter, a father of two, was employed as a carpenter and joiner and worked on the construction of the Arts Tower fitting the window sills using a black and shiny material called Eternit.

Pamela said: “Peter’s diagnosis was such a shock to us all and we’re still coming to terms with his death.

"My sons and I have so many questions about how he came to be exposed to asbestos and, while it cannot change what happened to Peter, we hope the answers will give us some peace.”

The former construction worker began visiting his GP in August 2013 with recurrent chest problems but x-rays showed nothing of concern. In August 2014 he returned because he was getting breathless. He was sent for a chest x-ray and the doctors discovered that he had fluid on his lungs.

Peter had approximately four litres of fluid drained from his lungs and on December 10, 2014, after a series of tests and examinations, he was told he had mesothelioma. He died 11 months later.

Lawyers are appealing to other sub-contractors who worked on the construction of the building, to provide them with information about the working conditions and materials used in the build.

Adrian Budgen, an expert asbestos-related disease lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, representing Pamela, said: “Mesothelioma is an extremely aggressive, and sadly incurable, form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos dust. It is responsible for the deaths of more than 2,500 people in the UK every year.

“We are investigating Peter’s exposure during his time working on the Sheffield Arts Tower project and hope that anyone who worked on the premises during 1964 and 1965 will come forward with any information about the presence of asbestos and what measures were in place to protect workers from exposure to the harmful dust and fibres.

“We hope to give Pamela and her sons the answers they deserve.”

The University of Sheffield has been contacted for a comment.