|Solicitor John Pickering retires - greatly appreciated for his pioneering work with asbestos claims|
Friday, December 10, 2004
John Pickering and Partners have one of the largest dust and lung diseases practices in the country, and have recovered millions of pounds in compensation for lung disease victims and their families
John Pickering worked for Thompsons, solicitors in the 60s and during this time became very active in dealing with asbestos cases for the people who worked at Acre Mill in Hebden Bridge where he lives.
He said of this time "My experience from 1969 onward was that after the first case we got inundated. "One of the reasons I have no records is that I was a partner in another firm of solicitors and we used to get so many cases. I tried to deal with them all myself at first. "But we got so many I had to pass them on to other solicitors in my office. Then we got so many still that we had to ask other firms of solicitors to take some on."
Mr Pickering estimated the number of deaths at between 500 and 750 since Cape Asbestos took over the mill in 1939. He said the total number of asbestos related-illness cases would be between 1,750 to 2,000. But more recently there has been a rise in people dying from mesothelioma, an incurable cancer of the lungs, usually related to asbestos.
In 1979 he went on his own and started the firm John Pickering & Partners at the Oldham Office and retires with offices now well established in Halifax, Manchester, Oldham and Liverpool.
The firm have always handled injury and disease claims for victims. They pioneered compensation for cotton workers' lung disease byssinosis in the 1980s. They acted for many years for the GMB Union in Merseyside. They still work for Unions but said "Most of our clients now come to us because they have been recommended to do so. " They have one of the largest dust and lung diseases practices in the country, and have recovered millions of pounds in compensation for lung disease victims and their families. They have recovered compensation for thousands of accident victims, but have avoided dealings with claims handlers or "claims farmers," because they believe people are better off dealing directly with specialist solicitors.
At a retirement party held at the Midland Hotel Manchester on the 3rd November, Office Manager June Hand paid tribute to John's hardworking, knowledgeable and humble approach to his work. Not someone who liked the limelight the staff had to insist that a retirement party take place. She said many times staff had been surprised to see John on TV at home but he had never told any of them it was going to happen. June also referred to notable cases such as Margerison and Alice Jefferson whose story was made into a documentary called Alice a Fight for Life. She ended by saying how much John would be missed but the firm's loss would be his grandchildren's gain and wished him many happy years with them in retirement.
The firm now has 7 partners, and up to 40 staff, spread between Manchester, Oldham, Halifax and Liverpool. The partners are Anthony Coombs, based in Manchester; Paul Glanville, Patrick Walsh and Ruth Davies based in Halifax; James Thompson and Carol Ann Hepworth based in Oldham; and Kevin Johnson based in Liverpool.
John Pickering expressed his great pride and satisfaction at the excellent work being continued by the partners in whose capable hands he was leaving the firm. A keen cyclist and walker John said he was looking forward to doing more of these things as well as spending more time with his 6 grandchildren. Learning new languages had always been one of his great interests and he had booked a two week residential course on Spanish in Madrid for the very near future.
With thanks to Frances Robinson of the Mytholmroyd Net for this news item
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