A beloved grandfather who was diagnosed with ‘just a cough’ died weeks later due to asbestos he’d been exposed to decades earlier.
In a tragic twist, Frank Hird’s wife of 51 years Marie passed away just 12 days after her husband.
Their son - who often accompanied his father in the work van he used to transport asbestos sheets - is now appealing for anyone who used to work with his dad to get in touch.
Jonathan Hird says his father, a dedicated family man who would visit his wife in a care home every day before he took ill, began working for Atlas Trading in Ashton-Under-Lyne in 1965. It was there that he was exposed to asbestos which led to him dying of mesothelioma in July 2015 at the age of 78.
“He was a delivery driver and one of the things he had to deliver was asbestos sheets.” said Jonathan. “He told us the sheets were particularly dusty at the point of having to lift them from the pile.
If you worked at Atlas during the same period as Mr Hird, we would like to speak to you.
“He did this job until around 1985. He then went to work in the shop as a manager. He wasn’t aware there were any problems until May 2015 when he got a bit of a cough. My mum had been in a care home since January that year and he had been going to see her every day. He stopped going because he had not wanted to pass on his cough.
“He went to the GP and saw the nurse. She said it was just a cough. He went two weeks later and again was told it was just a cough. We insisted he see a doctor the next time and the doctor sent him for an X-ray straight away.”
Jonathan said his father ‘went downhill’ quickly after that and saw a variety of different consultants. It was one of the consultants that asked about previous exposure to asbestos.
He added: “The consultant said dad would have inhaled fibres delivering the sheets.”
A keen gardener who spent much of his life in Coppice, Oldham before moving to Lydgate, Saddleworth in 1999, Frank dabbled in woodwork and enjoyed coach holidays with his beloved wife Marie. Jonathan said his father was fit and in good health until the effects of his previous asbestos exposure took hold.
He added: “He had retired when he was 64 and used to enjoy going on holiday with mum, they particularly liked Llandudno. Their last trip was a year before he took ill. I think it was difficult because mum was in a wheelchair.
“My mum had dementia. We hadn’t been able to manage at home so she had gone into a care home. Dad would never miss a day visiting her. Eventually he moved into the home where my mum lived. She died 12 days after him.”
Lawyers at Slater and Gordon, who have been instructed to handle the case by Frank’s family, are appealing for people who may have worked with him at Atlas Trading.
Madelene Holdsworth, who is the head of the industrial disease department at the law firm, said: “Frank’s children are desperate to find out more about what their dad did to cause his death. If you worked at Atlas during the same period as Mr Hird, we would like to speak to you.
“While asbestos was widely used until the 1980s, employers should have been aware of the risks and taken appropriate steps to protect their employees.”
Anyone who believes they can help should contact Madelene on 0161 383 3308 or email Madelene.Holdsworth@slatergordon.co.uk