Father Fondly Remembered on Workers’ Memorial Day
The son of a former engineer from Hertfordshire is appealing for his dad’s former colleagues to help the family find out how the father of two was exposed to the asbestos that claimed his life.
Bruce Saunders, then age 86, died on 15 January 2020 from mesothelioma, a terminal cancer of the lungs associated with exposure to asbestos. He received his diagnosis at Westmoreland hospital in February 2019 following a sample and biopsy.
Prior to his death, Bruce instructed specialist asbestos-related disease lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate if he encountered asbestos during his career, where he specialised in aerospace and car engines, prior to his retirement in 1996.
Sadly, Bruce died before he could continue his search for answers, so ahead of Workers’ Memorial Day on 28 April, his son, Matthew Saunders, has joined with the legal team in making an appeal for his dad’s former workmates to come forward, if they can help with the ongoing investigation.
The team remain keen to trace anyone who remembers working with Bruce during his time as a graduate apprentice with Bristol Aeroplane Company in Fulton, from 1956-1959.
Leah O’Keefe, a personal injury consultant at Irwin Mitchell, who is acting for the family, said: “Bruce’s case is another all-too familiar story of a life devastated by asbestos-related illness, which often comes to light only decades after initial exposure.
“Due to being lightweight, durable and fire retardant, asbestos was widely used in the aerospace industry. We need more information on the working conditions Bruce encountered during his work life and information held by former colleagues could prove crucial to our enquiries.”
If anyone who remembers Bruce could come forward, we can still help secure justice for his family as we pay tribute to another worker lost to asbestos ahead of Workers’ Memorial Day.”
A native of Harrow, Bruce attended Hertford College, Oxford (1952-1956), before joining Bristol Aeroplane Co in Fulton, as a graduate apprentice. The company worked on the first turboprop powered airliner, the Vickers Viscount, plus the Bristol Britannia. Bruce worked in the office, on the engine side and welding on the shop floor.
Bruce went on to work in the National Research Development Corporation from 1960 to 1965. Based in central London, he worked off-site for clients including Lincoln based engine makers Rushton & Hornsby and on engine design at Rolls-Royce. From 1965 until 1969, Bruce worked at the engineering company CAV/Joseph Lucas, on long strategic planning and analysing designs.
Finally, from 1972, until his retirement in 1996, Bruce was a senior manager at the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SSMT). Based at Forbes House in Halkin Street on Hyde Park Corner, Bruce dealt with car lighting and signalling, emissions and fuel consumption.
Bruce first started to notice the symptoms of his mesothelioma towards the end of 2018, the same year he lost his wife of 58 years, the historian and magazine editor, Dr Ann Saunders, following a sudden stroke.
Speaking about his father, son Matt said: “Dad didn’t deserve to die the way he did. To receive his diagnosis so soon after losing mum was a terrible time for the whole family.
Dad was a problem solver and that fuelled his desire to get to the truth of how he encountered asbestos and I’m now the only one left who can see dad get the answers and justice he wanted.”
We think his asbestos exposure must have come during the early years of his apprenticeship, but if anyone out there remembers dad and could help, it would be much appreciated. He didn’t like to leave unfinished business and Workers’ Memorial Day is a good time to find the answers.”
Workers’ Memorial Day is on Tuesday, 28 April, and is a day to ‘remember the dead and to fight for the living’ by paying respects to those who have died as a result of their employment. The day aims to improve health and safety in the workplace, and increase protection for employees.
Anyone with information is asked to contact either Leah O’Keefe at Irwin Mitchell on 0207 421 3998 or at Leah.O’Keefe@IrwinMitchell.com or Taler Kelly at Irwin Mitchell on 0203 040 3432 or at Taler.Kelly@IrwinMitchell.com