19 January 2006
WILL OF IRON
JEFF WINS £1.5M 4 YEARS AFTER CRIPPLING BLAST
By Clinton Manning
FORMER foundry worker Jeff Smalley has won almost £1.5million compensation after a horror accident - but he would give back every penny to hold his wife again.
The 62-year-old has to have his left arm amputated after an explosion at work. The tragedy struck 25 years after another accident led to him losing his right arm.
He said: "It's a lot of money but I'd give it all back in an instant if I could have my arms back."
His wife Linda said the worst thing was not being able to have a cuddle with her husband.
"We always used to hold hands when we went out for a walk," she said. "It's really awful not being able to put your arms around one another."
Jeff was working for James Maude & Co in Mansfield, Notts, when a sandblasting machine exploded in November 2001.
He was blown off his feet, broke his leg and ripped his left shoulder apart. Doctors tried surgery to repair the damage but it didn't work. Jeff developed chronic regional pain syndrome which meant his arm and fingers are hyper sensitive. He is due to have his left arm amputated next week. "He's in that much pain the operation will be a blessed relief in many ways," said Linda, who quit her job at Asda to look after Jeff.
"He can't use it and he's taking about 16 tablets a day and he has morphine patches which he puts under his arm. Some days he's so drugged up he doesn't know where he is or - if he's lucky - he just sleeps."
Losing the use of his arms has also affected Jeff's balance - but he hasn't lost his sense of humour. He says: "I've fallen down twice. Once I broke my nose and split my head open so badly it needed 10 stitches.
"I can't put my hands out to break the fall so the first thing that hits the floor is my hooter.
"I looked as if I'd got a tomato stuck on the end of it." For Jeff the pain is made worse by not being able to play with his four grandchildren. After his first accident in 1980, he taught himself to paint with his left hand and to ride a mountain bike, cycling 200 miles a week to keep fit.
And shortly before the accident he started taking the eldest of his four grandchildren out for a ride. He said: "The eldest, Nathan, started to come out with me at weekends. I was looking forward to getting all of them out on the bikes.
"But now I can't cycle anymore and I've put on about three stone." His painting, too, will be impossible after next week's surgery.
In Jeff's first accident, in 1980, he dislocated his elbow and shoulder in a fall. Although a relatively minor injury he developed the infection CRPS. His arm was amputated five years later and he settled out of court with the company for £36,000.
Although the firm - which has since gone bust - admitted liability for the blast it took a four-year fight by the Amicus trade union and its legal firm Thompsons to win the insurance pay-out. "The union's been absolutely brilliant," said Jeff, "and Peter Magee at Thompsons. I don't know what we'd have done without their help."
Amicus legal services director Georgina Hirsch said: "This is an absolutely tragic case.
"No amount of money will ever make up for Mr Smalley's loss. But the outcome highlights the support trades unions can give to members injured at work."
'No amount of money can make up for this loss
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Monday, February 20, 2006
19 January 2006