The heartbroken family of a painter and decorator who died from an asbestos-related cancer are appealing to his former Croydon Council colleagues for help in their fight for justice.

Harry Russell, from Addiscombe, died from mesothelioma in August 2013, two days after he was diagnosed with the disease.

His wife Gwen, 79, and his two children Sharon and Gary believe this was caused by his exposure to asbestos while he was employed by the council, between 1964 and 1995.

During this time he painted a number of public buildings including schools, old peoples' homes and children’s homes.

And the family remembers him talking about working on the cooling towers at Taberner House, the former main offices for the council.

They have asked lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate the working conditions during his time as a council worker.

Mrs Russell, who was married to Harry for 58 years, hopes that his former workmates will come forward and provide details to the law firm about the measures put in place to protect workers from inhaling asbestos dust and fibres.

She said: "I am still coming to terms with the loss of Harry, but I am determined to get justice for him and make sure those responsible for failing to protect him are held to account."

And Sharon Russell added: "Our whole family is devastated by dad’s death.

"Dad was fit and active throughout his life, which made it absolutely heart-breaking for us all to watch him deteriorate so quickly and suffer the pain and distress he did in the final months of his life.

"We are trying to do everything we can for mum and I have given up my career as a PA to take care of her.

"There’s no amount of money that could compensate for dad’s loss, but we want those who were responsible for his exposure to asbestos to be held to account for their lack of preventative measures, and for mesothelioma to be highlighted to employers and workers alike, so no more families need to go through what we have."

Anyone who worked with Harry at Croydon Council between 1964 and 1995 and has information on the working conditions is asked to contact Sarah Wolf on 020 7421 3968 or email

A Croydon Council spokesman said: "We would like to express our condolences to the family of Mr Russell.

"As this is now a legal matter we are unable to comment any further at this time."