Compensation for deadly asbestos ‘snowball’ fights

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A former Wolverton railway works apprentice who had asbestos ‘snowball fights’ 60 sixty years ago has been awarded compensation from the British Railway Board.

Trevor Hobson, now 73, sufferrs from an asbestos-related lung condition that is jeopardising his health.

The railway board’s lawyers agreed without argument that this could have been caused by repeated exposure to the substance, which was once used to insulate train carriages.

Said Mr Hobson: “It was in the 1950s and people didn’t know how dangerous asbestos was in those days.

“It was this soft blue stuff and it was all over the works.We used to joke around and throw it at each other like snowballs.”

Starting his apprenticeship at the age of 16,Mr Hobson worked as a carpenter, fitting door handles and locks on the carriage’s wooden panels.

Other apprentices would spray the blue asbestos onto the panels, between the framework and the wood.

Dust from the material would remain in the air for everybody in the factory to breathe in.

“We didn’t wear masks or gloves or anything. You didn’t in those days,” said Mr Hobson, who still lives in Wolverton.

“Most young men from the town went into the railway works at that time. Nearly all my classmates did. We did a year at the training school at 15 then started our five-year apprenticeship a year later.”

Mr Hobson left the works at the age of 21 and pursued a successful carpentry career elsewhere.

But over the years he saw numerous classmates and former colleagues from the railway works become ill and die , many of them from asbestos-related illnesses.

But it was not until he himself was diagnosed with pleural thickening of the lungs that he thought to claim compensation.

Now the father-of-three, who has four grandsons, wants to raise awareness of the deadly substance – and alert other former railway workers to the dangers.

The lawyer who handled his claim, Nicky Howe from Moore Blatch, told the Citizen: “Asbestos is an incredibly dangerous material, the effects of which cannot be underestimated.

“People can be exposed for a relatively short period of time and this can still result in a detrimental effect on their long-term health.”