It greatly saddened our asbestos removals team here at Trident Asbestos Solutions to learn of the passing of another victim of contact with this lethal substance – this time Cyril Augustine, an erstwhile builder who at one point worked at the BBC’s now-defunct Lime Grove Studios.
As reported by the Croydon Advertiser, the 82-year-old was admitted to Croydon University Hospital on 5th March this year with “a shortness of breath and a heavy cough”, receiving care there for six weeks before dying of metastatic mesothelioma, so-named due to cancer cells having travelled through his body from large tumours in his left lung.
Mr Augustine’s death is just the latest in a long line of tragedies reminding us of the continued pressing importance of asbestos removals in the UK. However, he was also able to reflect with pride on a distinguished career in Britain since arriving here from the Caribbean island of Dominica in 1960.
A high level of contact with asbestos over almost 30 years
Mr Augustine worked as a builder on a largely self-employed basis over nearly three decades, and closely encountered asbestos on many occasions during his career – including at the famous BBC TV and film studios, where he was required to cut through and fit asbestos sheets.
As explained in a written statement by his daughter Christina at South London Coroner’s Court, “he did this also while working for housing associations doing repairs and maintenance throughout the 1970s and 1980s, working with asbestos with no health and safety.
“He would work with asbestos in old chimney places, floors, partitioned walls and also worked for the Clapham Road Housing Association carrying out repairs, maintenance and general building work which had some exposure to asbestos on these jobs as well.”
Even in his first job in the UK for Robert Hart & Sons in 1960, Mr Augustine was required to cut asbestos sheets and attach them to doors to make them fireproof.
“No doubt in the evidence”
The husband and father – latterly of Marlow Road, Penge – was diagnosed with the disease in August 2015, and also received treatment at the Princess Royal University Hospital in Orpington in 2017.
Recording the death as industrial disease, Dr William Dolman, assistant coroner, commented: “The post-mortem indicated a wider spread of cancer in the form of metastatic mesothelioma. He had clear contact with asbestos as most cases like this do.
“There is no doubt in the evidence with his daughter’s statement and his employment he was exposed when carrying out building work.
“The date of the contact was in the 1960s and latterly in the 1970s and 1980s, that’s still a 30-year period where the malignant developed which killed him before it was identified and diagnosed.”
The BBC purchased Lime Grove Studios in 1949 as a “temporary measure” until Television Centre – now also disposed of by the corporation – was ready. The broadcaster continued to use the buildings until 1991, and they were demolished in 1993.
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