UNTIL June last year, grandfather Terence McCarthy was a fit and healthy postman.

But when he was laid low with what he thought was a chest infection, doctors told him he had the deadly cancer mesothelioma, caused by exposure to asbestos 40 years ago.

Mr McCarthy died in March this year, aged 66, in Bolton Hospice, after an agonising battle with the disease.

Now his partner of 15 years, Margaret Poole, is calling for the insurance industry to urgently fund more medical research.

Mr McCarthy, from Westpark, Heaton, had been fit and healthy for most of his life.

But last year, tests confirmed he had mesothelioma — a form of cancer with no cure — in his lungs.

Ms Poole had to watch her partner lie in agony for the final six months of his life.

He died on March 21, leaving two children and a grandchild.

Ms Poole said more funding must be made to available for research into the deadly disease.

The 64-year-old, from Limbridge Drive in Blackrod, said: “Mesothelioma is a death sentence. Terry had no quality of life for the last six months and it was terrible see him in so much pain.

“The problem is that not many people have heard of mesothelioma. I come from a nursing background and I didn’t know much about it.

“I had no idea how devastating it would be and how quickly it would take Terry.

“This is why research is so important.”

Symptoms of mesothelioma develop, on average, about 32 years after exposure to asbestos fibres, with sufferers living an average of eight months after diagnosis.

However, mesothelioma research is still underfunded.

Lord Alton of Liverpool, who spoke in Manchester for Action Mesothelioma Day at the beginning this month, has called for greater research funding.

The Mesothelioma Bill was passed in March to allow sufferers and their family to apply for payouts from a pot of £380 million funded by the insurance industry — but none of that money will go directly to research.

Ms Poole said: “We need the government to enforce this annual levy to fund further research to find a cure.

“Terry was a real family man who would talk to anyone. He is terribly missed by everyone.

“I want other mesothelioma patients and their families to know that there is support out there.”