A keen footballer who was advised by his union to have asbestos exposure listed on his medical records went on to die of a cancer related to it.
The family of great grandfather Dennis Rodgers is now looking for people who worked with him anytime between the 1960s up until 1991 when he was employed at what was AEI telecommunications.
Dennis’s wife Glenice, who provided her husband with round the clock care at home before his death, says her husband was in “absolute agony” when he died after doctors spent months investigating his condition.
“It started with a pain in his chest,” she said.
“He went to the hospital for X-rays and was referred to a lung specialist and had every sort of test going. At first they said it was pneumonia or emphysema and he was put on antibiotics. Every month he’d have a check-up with the consultant. He lost lots of weight and had an MRI and loads of scans.
“They then thought he had gall stones and metastasis of the liver. He had two lots of chemotherapy which made him very ill.”
After dad-of-one Dennis from Eckington, Sheffield, passed away, on February 10 last year, a post mortem revealed he died from asbestos related lung cancer.
Glenice added: “Dennis was a solid union bloke and I remember in the sixties he was advised by his union, the ASTMS, to have exposure to asbestos listed on his medical records. We believed a former doctor had done it but we can’t find a record.
“When I met Dennis, in 1958, he worked as a French polisher at Cravens who made railway carriages in Sheffield. He worked there until 1961 and then moved to a steel works in Sheffield.
“In 1965 he started at AEI which later became GEC and later Alstom. For the first ten years of his job, in order to lay telephone wiring into various premises, Dennis worked with cables made from blue asbestos. He cut and hacked at the cabling before installing it into ducts which were subsequently packed with asbestos. He recalled that the job was very dirty and dusty and that he was handling the asbestos with his bare hands never wearing any masks or breathing equipment.
“During his time with AEI he worked all over the country primarily in phone exchanges. He was first employed as a wirefitter before being upgraded to the position of installer.
“He spent a lot of time in the Leeds and Bradford area as well as some time in Manchester, Oxford and Glasgow.”
Glenice, who had been married to Dennis for 57 years when he died, is particularly keen to speak to anyone who worked for GEC Telecommunications in the 1960s and 70s. The firm’s headquarters was in Coventry and they were a large employer in the area. She wants to understand what level of exposure her husband would have had to asbestos.
She added: “Dennis died just after his 80th birthday and we miss him terribly. We met in Sheffield at a fairground. He was on the waltzer and I wanted to get on with my friends but they wouldn’t get off so we just got on with them!
“He was very fit then. A keen footballer, he was also in the games league at the pub and grew tomatoes and cucumber on our windowsills at home. In fact he had such success with his vegetables he went on to get an allotment.
“He was the kind of man who would get up in the morning and say ‘Don’t bother cooking today Glenice, we’ll go to Cleethorpes for fish and chips’. We loved going out in the car, we’d just drive and get lost in the days before sat nav but we’d always find our way home.”
Lawyers at Slater and Gordon, who have been instructed to handle the case by Dennis’s family, are appealing for people who may have worked with him in places where asbestos was present.
Madelene Holdsworth, who is the head of the industrial disease department at the law firm, said: “Glenice is desperate to find out what her husband did to cause his death. If you worked at GEC as a wirefitter or you worked with Dennis Rodgers at all, we would like to speak to you.
“Mr Rodgers was warned about asbestos by his union afterwards but by then it was too late as he had already been exposed to the deadly dusts. Just like in so many other cases, his employers did not make their workers aware of the dangers and now, many years later, they are paying the price.
“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