While it is well-known that those who worked in the construction sector many decades ago can be at risk of developing asbestos-related disease as a result of having come into contact with the lethal substance during their working lives, not all cases are this typical. This has been shown by one sad story recently published by the Newcastle-based Evening Chronicle newspaper.
Overseeing renovations may have exposed tragic husband to asbestos
Bob Elliot – originally from Kimblesworth in County Durham – was a senior manager for leading bingo hall operator Rank, which was responsible for hundreds of bingo halls across the country in the 1970s and ‘80s. Only after his death last year was it found that he had been suffering from mesothelioma, a cancer of the lung lining that is strongly associated with asbestos exposure.
It is thought that he would have breathed in the potentially fatal substance while overseeing renovations of Rank premises around his native North East of England, but his family is now appealing for more information on exactly where this may have occurred.
While Bob spent time around the UK and the United States, he was also active in his home region for many years. He was based in Sunderland, but helped to oversee the transformation of old cinemas into bingo halls in such towns and cities as Gateshead and Leeds.
“We always said no, as that wasn’t his line of work”
Bob, a prostate cancer survivor, sadly died in March last year, aged 79. His wife Elizabeth, to whom he was married for 50 years, said the couple had no idea he could have been exposed to asbestos.
She commented: “When Bob had prostate cancer in 1999, he made such a great recovery, he had more energy than me. But then in late 2015, we could tell something wasn’t right – we worried that the prostate cancer had come back, but really we knew it was something different as the symptoms were different.
“The doctors kept asking about whether Bob could have come into contact with asbestos, but we always said no, as that wasn’t his line of work. Just before he died, one doctor said to us it could be mesothelioma, but as Bob didn’t work with asbestos, we just didn’t think it was possible. Only once the post-mortem confirmed it did we actually believe it, but of course it was a huge shock.”
She appealed for her husband’s ex-colleagues or anyone involved in the conversion of the bingo halls to provide information that “would help us go some way to finding out why we lost Bob in the manner we did.”
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