Loved Ones And Lawyers Seeking Information On Aviation Firms Following Fathers Mesothelioma Death
The family of a former copperworker from Chester is appealing to their dad’s old workmates for help to determine how he came into contact with the asbestos that claimed his life.
Dennis Harding, 90, died less than a month after being diagnosed with mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the lung associated with exposure to asbestos, often decades previously.
Following Dennis’ death, his step-daughter Hilary, instructed specialist asbestos-related disease lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate how he developed the illness.
Hilary has now joined the legal team in appealing for anyone who worked with Dennis to come forward and provide any information they may have on his exposure to asbestos in his career.
They are keen to trace anyone who worked alongside Dennis during his time working in the UK aviation industry. Dennis worked for De Havilland Aircraft Co Ltd in Broughton in the 1950s for eight years, Acrefair-based Air Products Ltd for seven years in the 1960s and Hawker Siddeley Aviation Ltd in Broughton in the 1960s.
Maria McMurray, the asbestos-related disease specialist at Irwin Mitchell supporting Dennis’ family, said: “Dennis’ death, particularly so soon after his diagnosis, has left his family in a state of shock.
“Dennis had always been a fit man and a keen sportsman and his good health had followed him into his later years, so the speed of his decline was unexpected. It has left the family with a lot of unanswered questions about how he was exposed to asbestos.
“Dennis had a long and successful career working for several firms in the aviation industry. Through our investigations we believe he was probably exposed to asbestos during his working life.
“Therefore we’re keen to hear more from either former colleagues or people who worked for the same firms with information about the conditions Dennis may have faced.
“We’re determined to support Dennis’ family in its search for answers. His loved ones would be grateful if anyone with information could come forward. Any details could prove vital in delivering the answers the family deserves as they come to terms with Dennis’ death.”
In 1951 aged 20, Dennis began as an apprentice at De Havilland Aircraft Company Ltd in Broughton (near Chester) and during the next eight years, he became a full coppersmith and pipefitter.
In 1959, he left De Havilland to join Air Products at Acrefair in nearby Wrexham, again working as a coppersmith and stayed with the firm for seven years until 1966. From here, Dennis moved to Hawker Siddeley Aircraft in Broughton, again as a coppersmith and stayed there until 1970.
Copper has a variety of uses and applications in aircraft construction but from the time of his diagnosis to his death, Dennis had little time to tell his family about his role and working conditions on a day-to-day basis, but he told them asbestos was also widely used in the aircraft sector.
Born John Harding in 1931 he was known throughout his life as Dennis. Dennis lived in the Broughton and later Milton Green areas of Chester. He married wife Jean in 1965 and the couple raised their daughter Hilary together who left for college aged 18. The couple moved to Barlaston in 1999. Jean died in 2009.
A keen sportsman, Dennis’ great love was cricket and he played the game throughout his life, for the Tattenham village team and for the Hawker Siddley Sports Club.
A capable card player, Dennis was well-known for playing whist and bridge, both in and around Chester and at several card clubs in Barlaston.
Dennis had remained fit and healthy throughout his life until he started to notice symptoms of breathlessness and consulted his GP. Following tests, he was diagnosed with mesothelioma on 30 July, 2021, and died on 15 August, 2021.
Hilary said: “Dennis had remained in good health and did very well for a man of his age, so it came as a huge shock when he was diagnosed with mesothelioma.
“We knew Dennis spent a lot of time working in aviation and he did tell us before he passed away that asbestos was commonly used in the industry. However the speed of his decline robbed him of a chance to say or do anything about his diagnosis.
“Dennis was a wonderful man and didn’t deserve to have his life ended by this terrible illness. If anyone can help us fill in the picture of his working life, it would mean a lot and give some much-needed answers and closure on what was not the way we wanted to mark a wonderful man who lived his life to the full.”
Anyone with information that could help the family is asked to contact Maria McMurray at Irwin Mitchell on 0121 203 4025 or email email@example.com