Retired NHS administrator died from an asbestos-related lung cancer
By Court reporter | 18th April 2023
Retired NHS administrator Anne Webb, 75, died from an asbestos-related lung cancer which she believed was caused in her childhood by her dad's work at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast, an inquest heard last week.
Mrs Webb, of Innsworth Lane, Gloucester, recalled her carpenter dad coming home to the family's small terraced house in Belfast with asbestos dust on his overalls and shaking it off at the back door, the inquest in Gloucester was told.
She died in August 2022, from mesothelioma - a lung cancer for which the only known cause is asbestos exposure.
In a statement made after she was diagnosed with the terminal condition in July 2021, Mrs Webb said she was shocked by the news because she had been fit and well, enjoying retirement, doing voluntary work and regularly going to the gym.
She had given up smoking 23 years earlier, she stated.
She died on August 15, 2022.
Assistant Gloucestershire Coroner Roland Wooderson said: "She said she had thought long and hard about where she could have come into contact with asbestos.
"She said 'The only place I can think of is our small terraced house while growing up in Belfast, a couple of miles from the shipyard.
"'My father worked for Harland and Wolff. He came home with asbestos dust on his clothing. He was made redundant in 1968 and my brother and I then moved to Leeds.
"'My brother Bill has also had an asbestos related disease and was diagnosed with pleural thickening.
"'Our late father died from lung cancer.
"'His death certificate confirmed he had asbestosis. This is not surprising given the amount of asbestos at work.
"'So essentially three members of the family have had asbestos diseases. The shipyard was the only place we know where asbestos was regularly used.
"'We all lived together in a small, terraced house. Dad would stand at the back door shaking off his overalls and dust would come into the kitchen. Dust brought into the home would stay there."
She stated it was her 'firm belief' that dust brought home by her dad in his clothes was the source of her cancer.
"I used to do the sweeping up from quite a young age," she added.
The coroner recorded a narrative conclusion saying: "She believed that her late father brought asbestos into the family home on his work overalls and she was thus exposed. The medical evidence is that this exposure would have been enough to cause the development of mesothelioma, or to contribute to the risk that she would get it."
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