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13 June 2024 | Comment | Article by Anna Burns

Asbestos team organises inspirational stadium tour for “meso-warriors”

Anna Burns and Mary Mulhall from our Asbestos team recently organised a tour of Headingley Stadium, the home of Leeds Rhinos, for the members of MESothelioma Support Yorkshire (MESSY).

MESothelioma Support Yorkshire (MESSY) is an information and support group for those affected by mesothelioma. The group is led by Mesothelioma UK nurse Simon Bolton and aims to provide information, support and practical advice to people suffering from or affected by mesothelioma.


The group were shown around the stadium by Rob Oates, Commercial Director of the Club, who as a lifelong fan of the club, was the perfect host, and was able to explain its history which dates back to 1870.

The Club is arguably most famous for its golden era between 2004 and 2017, and in particular winning the treble (Challenge Cup, League Leaders Shield and Grand Final) in 2015. This particular team of players were at the top of their game and worked so well together.


The tour coincided with the sad passing of Rob Burrows who was part of that illustrious team of players and who, since being diagnosed with MND has raised the profile of the disease with such courage. It was extremely moving to see the tributes left to him at the stadium.

Most of the MESSY members have lived and worked in Yorkshire all their lives, and as a predominantly North of England sport, rugby league is part of the fabric of life for many people.


The group were taken behind the scenes and had the privilege of visiting the changing rooms where inspiring team talks have taken place as well as walking down the corridor and out to the pitch, as so many sporting heroes have done before them.

The importance of history for the Leeds Rhinos is something that we can identify with when helping and supporting individuals with asbestos illness claims. After inhaling asbestos fibres, the fibres can lie dormant for 20-60 years before an individual first notices any symptoms. As lawyers, we are therefore always looking back in time to discover how an individual may have come across asbestos.


Leeds is similar to many cities in England in that it sadly has a long history with asbestos. In particular, the JW Roberts Ltd asbestos factory in Armley, owned by Turner & Newall. The factory manufactured asbestos insulation and sadly exposed workers and individuals living in the vicinity of the works to asbestos leading to a significant number of people developing asbestos illnesses, with a rise during the 1970s. Yorkshire is famous for its industry, and during the 1960s, the UK was the biggest importer of asbestos worldwide. Asbestos is known for its heat resistant properties and therefore was commonly used across all types of industry and for Yorkshire in particular, it was often used within the many factories, mills and mines that the county is renowned for.

Individuals living with and managing their mesothelioma are affectionately known as ‘meso-warriors’.

Speaking about the day, Simon Bolton said:

“Members of the MESSY group were given a real treat by Anna, Mary and the team at Hugh James. Our own meso-warriors had a lovely afternoon visiting the Leeds Rhinos stadium learning more about the legacy created by the sporting warriors of the past.”

Anna Burns added:

“The tour enabled us to walk in the footsteps of some of the most iconic rugby league players. What a unique experience for us all.”

Author bio

Anna Burns

Senior Associate

Anna Burns is a specialist Asbestos Litigator who has been helping individuals diagnosed with asbestos related illnesses to claim compensation since she qualified as a Solicitor in 2007.

Disclaimer: The information on the Hugh James website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. If you would like to ensure the commentary reflects current legislation, case law or best practice, please contact the blog author.


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