Back to Press Releases

Former Merchant Navy Worker Dies Weeks After Mesothelioma Diagnosis

Former Merchant Navy Worker Dies Weeks After Mesothelioma Diagnosis

A woman whose husband died just weeks after being diagnosed with asbestos-related cancer is appealing for help to find out where he came into contact with the deadly dust. 

Frank Holland, 72, was fit and healthy and still working as a HGV driver when he started to feel unwell.

Tests revealed mesothelioma, an incurable cancer caused by exposure to asbestos, and he was given the devastating news that he had just weeks to live.

He survived for another two months before he died, on August 18, 2013, with wife Jen by his side.

Jen, 69, who was married to Frank for 27 years, has now launched legal action in a bid to find out where he inhaled the asbestos dust which led to his death.

Born in Widnes, Frank left school aged 15 in 1955 to join the Merchant Navy and travelled the world as an able seaman.

Jen said: “His dad was in the Navy and Frank wanted to follow in his footsteps so his mum enrolled him in the Merchant Navy college at Dartmouth as a birthday present.

“He travelled all over. He saw Elvis at Madison Square Gardens in New York, he went swimming with dolphins off Montego Bay.

“He was in the Merchant Navy for eight years, and he worked a lot in the engine and boiler rooms. In those days the pipes on ships were always lagged with asbestos, but no one thought anything of it then.”

Frank, who was also known as ‘Dutch’ or ‘H’ by his Navy pals, worked on various ships including The Sylvanian, MV Herdsman, Roscoe, Araby, MV Nova Scotia, Harrison Line and Esso Tankers.

After leaving the Merchant Navy, he worked as a HGV driver in and around his home in Widnes, apart from a three-year stint in the 1970s at ICI’s Weston Point Salt Works in Runcorn.

Jen, from Widnes, is now appealing for his former colleagues – on land or sea – to get in touch if they remember anywhere he could have come into contact with asbestos.

She said: “I thought we’d have years more together and it was such a shock. I’d never heard the word mesothelioma before.

“I know it’s not going to bring him back, but I’d just like to know where it happened for my own peace of mind.”

An industrial disease specialist at law firm Slater and Gordon, added: “Sadly, Frank had very little time to come to terms with his condition before his death or work out where he came into contact with asbestos.

“Although he was not aware of the dangers, unfortunately many employers at that time were and what we are keen to establish now is if more could have been done to protect him.

“It was a long time ago, but we’d like to hear from anyone who remembers working with Frank and may have vital information to help Jen get justice for her husband.”

Anyone who can help should contact Slater and Gordon Lawyers.