Plea For Information On Working Conditions Father-Of-Two Faced At Brewery In North West London
The devastated son of a former Guinness worker is appealing for help to establish how his dad was exposed to the asbestos that claimed his life.
Philip Rhodes, 95, from Mill Hill, Barnet, died after being diagnosed with mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the lung associated with asbestos exposure, often decades previously.
Following the father-of-two’s death, son Keith Rhodes, 63, instructed asbestos-related disease lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate if his dad’s illness was linked to his work history.
Keith has now joined with the legal team in appealing to any of his dad’s former workmates at the Arthur Guinness brewery - now called Diageo – in Brent, North West London, to come forward. Philip worked as an electrician at the Cumberland Avenue site from 1965 until his retirement in 1987.
Expert Opinion“Keith and his father were extremely close and had lived together for 11 years. Understandably he and the wider family remain devastated by Philip’s death.
“Philip and Keith shared everything and while Philip passed on details of his work history to his son, Philip’s death robbed him of an opportunity to seek answers over how he came into contact with asbestos.
“Keith is continuing the search in memory of his dad and while nothing can bring Philip back, if anyone who worked with him at Guinness could come forward, it would mean a lot to Keith and the family and could make all the difference to the investigation.
“Any detail a former workmate can give us could prove vital as we look to give Keith the answers he needs and deserves.” Emma Guy - Chartered Legal Executive
Philip started working for Arthur Guinness and Son on Cumberland Avenue, Park Royal, in Brent, in North West London in 1965. It was the site of the brewery and head office, where Philip worked for 22 years, until he retired in 1987.
As a maintenance electrician, Philip’s role included locating faults with the electrical system. He told Keith this involved opening and examining junction boxes and electrical trunking, stripping back the insulation around the wiring - which he believed to be made from asbestos - to trace the fault and repair it. He described this as dusty work and other than overalls, he was never given any protection to wear.
Born in 1924, Philip married May Lillian in June 1951. When May died in 1992; he married Amelia D’Souza when he was 71 and the couple lived in Mill Hill, until Amelia died in 2005.
When son Keith moved to Hastings in 2009, Philip went to live with him. They were followed in 2013 by sister and mum-of four Barbara, together with her son Jake, so the family could be together.
Philip remained a fit and active man until a year prior to his death. Keith noticed his dad had started to slow down and lose weight, was tired, breathless and had developed a cough.
Father and son put these symptoms down to age, but as the breathlessness worsened, Philip saw his GP, who referred him for a chest X-ray in March 2020, which revealed fluid on his lung.
Philip returned to hospital to have the fluid drained on 20 March and was discharged the day the Covid-19 lockdown was announced on 23 March. His condition deteriorated and an ambulance was called on 31 March. Keith was never to see or speak to his dad again.
On 3 April, 2020, Philip died and due to lockdown restrictions, only six people were allowed to attend the funeral.
Speaking for the family, Keith said: “Dad was simply an amazing man and considering he was 95-years-old, he was young at heart and in good health prior to the onset of his symptoms.
“In our close-knit family, Dad and I were more like brothers and his passing from this terrible disease has left a hole in all our lives that can never be filled.
“Before Dad died, a nurse called me to say Dad had a CT scan that had found mesothelioma, something nasty caused by asbestos exposure. I never thought that would mean he could be taken from us so quickly and rob the family of a chance of a final goodbye.
“I couldn’t go with Dad to hospital or visit him and it’s terrible to think he spent his last days alone. That only six could be at the funeral was heartbreaking for all of us who knew and loved him.
“In the 11 years we lived together, we spoke a lot about the old days and the probably asbestos insulation in the wiring and the dust at Guinness
“My sister and I have lost our father, I have lost my best friend and the grandchildren have lost an amazing grandfather. If anyone can help us find out more of the facts, it would mean a lot to me personally and our wider family as we look to move on from this terrible experience.”
Anyone with information that might help Keith and the family is asked to contact Emma Guy of Irwin Mitchell on 0207 4213913 or by email at emma.guy@IrwinMitchell.com