A FORMER Swindon railway worker who is dying of cancer has won his compensation claim against British Rail.

Tony Rima, 65, made the claim after he was exposed to asbestos at the company’s railway works in the town in the 1950s and 1960s.

Tony, who lived in Upper Stratton for much of his life but has since retired to Coldstream, in the Scottish Borders, was diagnosed with mesothelioma in August.

It is believed the fourth-generation railwayman was exposed to blue asbestos when he was finishing rail carriages in Shop 7 and repairing old carriages in Shop 24.

Tony instructed asbestos claims specialists Thompsons Solicitors to pursue his case for compensation.

And Thompsons successfully settled the claim in just 11 weeks.

He said: “I’m a fourth-generation railway man but now I wish I had never been inside the place.

“British Rail has taken my life away. I felt extremely angry when I was diagnosed with mesothelioma and I wanted them to take responsibility.

“I also wanted to ensure my wife still has a reasonable standard of living when I am gone.

“I am delighted that this has been dealt with so quickly and professionally by Thompsons Solicitors.

“It means I can now be rest assured in the knowledge that my case is out of the way and my wife will be financially secure.

“I would urge anyone who has worked with asbestos to keep a close eye on their health.”

Tony claims that the people he worked with had no idea what asbestos was until the late 1970s.

Before then the workmen had been given no information on the dangers or how to protect themselves from the lethal asbestos dust.

After the sudden death of a fellow apprentice in the early 1990s, Tony thought that he could be next.

Tony, who has a son and a daughter and four grandchildren living in Swindon, started working for British Rail at the age of 15, along with his father, grandfather and uncles.

But he is now facing up to the fact that he will not live as long as his father and aunt who are both alive at 98 and 93, respectively.

Doctors have given Tony a year to live, but chemotherapy has slowed the cancer down and recent tests have shown his condition is not deteriorating.

However, Tony can only manage a short walk to the paper shop and back before he is left out of breath.

There is no cure for the disease which affects 2,000 people a year and has been dubbed the Swindon Disease owing to the high number of railway workers in the town who have developed mesothelioma.

Helen Jones, from Thompsons Solicitors, said: “British Rail in Swindon was responsible for exposing thousands of employees to asbestos and as a result people like Mr Rima are paying the price with their lives.

“It was important that we concluded his case quickly to bring Mr Rima some peace of mind and the reassurance that his family will be financially provided for after his death.

“This result was achieved by our specialist asbestos team pushing to reduce the time the claim takes to the bare minimum while ensuring the client receives the maximum compensation.”