Thorney Widow Joins Legal Team in Appealing For Information On Father-of-Two’s Work At Power Stations
The widow of a former power station worker and Mayor is appealing to his former colleagues for help in discovering how he was exposed to the asbestos that claimed his life.
John Bartlett, of Thorney, Peterborough died aged 74 from asbestosis, a condition which progressively constricts the lungs and which is associated with exposure to asbestos, often decades previously.
Following his death, Jean, 79, instructed asbestos-related disease specialists at Irwin Mitchell to investigate where her husband’s exposure to asbestos may have taken place.
Jean has now joined the legal team in appealing for anyone who worked alongside John to come forward with information on the working practices at the power stations he was based at.
They are particularly keen to trace anyone who remembers John from his time at Rye House Power Station, in Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire in the early 1960s, Little Barford Power Station in Bedfordshire in 1967, Hackney Power Station at Lea Bridge, London from 1967-1968 and Peterborough Power Station, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire from May 1968 to November 1969.
Expert Opinion“John was a much-loved husband and family man, who served the community faithfully as both Mayor and as a local Councillor for many years.
“John’s death is yet another reminder of the dreadful legacy asbestos has left behind. Understandably his family remain devastated by John’s death. While nothing can make up for their loss we’re determined to help them find the answers they deserve concerning his death. Any information former colleagues can provide could prove vital in providing John’s family with some sense of closure following what has been a terrible experience.” Sylvia Phillips - Solicitor
John and Jean met at a 21st birthday party on 18 November 1967, which Jean remembers because it was also John’s last day at Little Barford Power Station, before moving to Hackney the day after. He worked at Hackney Power station from November 1967 until he moved to Peterborough Power Station on 28 May 1968.
Jean and John married on 19 October 1968 and he left Peterborough Power Station the following year in November 1969. From this point, John worked for an engine manufacturer, Perkins Engines. He worked at Perkins Engines until 31 January 2003 by which time it had become Caterpillar. He became a Peterborough City Councillor in May 1986 until May 2008.
John’s younger brother, Keith Bartlett, 75, from Chichester recalls much of John’s early career and that he was aged just 15 when starting his apprenticeship at Rye House Power Station. The brothers were living with their parents in Cockfosters at the time. Keith recalled his brother’s work included day release to attend Barnet College and Hertford College.
Keith went on an open day to Rye House Power Station and his impression was of a maze of pipes, valves and turbines. Every pipe was lagged, with something that looked like coarse chicken wire with a white lagging, which Keith believes was asbestos.
John worked on leaking valves, repairing or replacing them and always came home dirty and covered in white dust from the lagging. The apprenticeship ended when John was 21 and he was taken on as a mechanical fitter. John volunteered to go to Little Barford Power Station before the move to work at Hackney Power Station in November 1967.
Away from work, John was a dedicated family man and father to Keith, age 51, and Colin, age 50. John was very involved in Cubs and Scouts while at school and he restarted the Thorney Scout Group in November 1975 with the local Vicar and was Scout Leader until May 1986.
John and Jean enjoyed walking and were Members of a Peterborough U3A walking group for many years. They enjoyed visiting National Trust properties and holidays in this country and Europe. He was a member Of the Peterborough Ortons Rotary Club and was President twice.
He was vice-Chairman of Peterborough MacMillan Cancer Support Committee and he was Churchwarden of Thorney Abbey Church for several years until his death. He was a member of Thorney Parish Council for forty years and Chairman for several years until his death. He was a school Governor at the Duke of Bedford Primary School, Thorney for many years.
John was first diagnosed with asbestosis in 2017. As his illness progressed he could walk less and less due to breathlessness and fatigue. On 1 November 2019 he was having problems breathing and he went to A & E at Peterborough City Hospital. He was kept in and transferred to Royal Papworth Hospital for heart surgery on 10 December and had open-heart surgery on 11 December 2019. He struggled to recover after the operation. John died on 19 January 2020.
Jean said: “John was an amazing husband. He wasn’t just a great father and family man – he took his role as a Councillor very seriously and was so proud to be playing his part to help others in the local community.
“John worked hard his whole life and he approached his public duties in the same way. He saw being Mayor as another opportunity to help people and knew the area better than anyone. He didn’t deserve to have what should have been an enjoyable retirement taken away from him by this terrible disease.
“It was awful to see him suffer at the end and has left our children, grandchildren, his brother, Keith and his sister, Hilary, devastated by the experience. He was my husband, but he was also my best friend and nothing can ever be quite the same without him with us.
“Keith and I believe John encountered asbestos during his work at the Power Stations, but if any former colleagues and workmates could come forward with their experiences that could help us a lot and answer some of the questions that still remain.
“A committed man, John never gave up on a cause and he would have wanted to get the answers for himself about his illness, so we’re determined to do so in his memory.”
Anyone with information that could help Jean and the family is asked to contact Sylvia Phillips on 01223 791867 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org