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Widower Pays Tribute To ‘Beloved’ Wife Who Died From Cancer Caused By Asbestos

Former Midwife Exposed To Deadly Asbestos Dust


The widower of a former midwife exposed to asbestos dust for years without ever being warned of its dangers today paid tribute to his ‘beloved’ wife after she lost her battle with cancer, just two months before the arrival of their first grandchildren.

The touching tribute to Denise Hunt was made by her devastated husband, who today spoke of his relief at having secured some justice in his late wife’s memory.

Only 52 when she died of pleural mesothelioma in January this year, Denise spent her career as a midwife working in the NHS committed to the patients at Tameside General Hospital, oblivious to the dangers of the killer fibres that she came into contact with there.

Geraldine Coombs, partner and industrial disease specialist at Irwin Mitchell in Manchester, who helped Mr Hunt and his family, confirmed that an out of court five figure settlement had been received from the North West Strategic Health Authority.

Now Denise’s husband Adrian, 53, who lives in Broadbottom, Cheshire, has said that though no amount of money will ever replace what he has lost he feels that, to some extent, justice has been done after the Authority settled the case. Although he says he wants reassurances that any asbestos remaining at Tameside General Hospital is not a threat to staff or patients.

Commenting on Denise’s case, Geraldine said: “Denise recalled several occasions throughout her career as a nurse at Tameside General Hospital when she came into contact with deadly asbestos dust. When she was a student nurse, she spent a lot of time working in the basement of the hospital, where the x-ray, lower twin theatres and sterilising department were located.

“She recalled pipes that had been lagged with asbestos running along the sides of the walls throughout the basement that were in a terrible state of repair and that when she bumped into them, bits of asbestos crumbled onto the floor.”

She added: “It is very sad that we are seeing more people like Denise, such as nurses and teachers, who are affected by mesothelioma.  They may only have had indirect contact with asbestos in their jobs, but there is no safe level of asbestos dust, and there is no safe type of asbestos.

“For too long employers needlessly exposed their staff to asbestos without providing even a basic level of protection. It is only now, decades later, that we are truly learning the extent of the exposure and how many innocent lives have been torn apart by this negligence.”

In 2006 Denise began to suffer from a cough but after a visit to her GP she was referred to Tameside hospital for x-rays, and after a series of further tests at Wythenshawe hospital and The Christie, she was diagnosed with mesothelioma. She battled with the disease, for which there is no known cure, for more than four years but tragically died in January.

Speaking about the tragic loss of his childhood sweetheart, Adrian said: “Denise and I were both devastated when she received her diagnosis. She’d fought so hard to beat breast cancer twice, only for her to be taken from us by a cancer she contracted through her work, which she loved so much.

“It all seems so cruel and unfair. Especially as our first grandchildren, twin girls, arrived last week, just before what would have been our 31st wedding anniversary. Denise loved helping mums and their babies, that’s why she became a midwife, and would have been a fantastic, doting grandmother. But she never got that chance.”

He continues: “The settlement will not bring back Denise, but we were both pleased that the organisation which she worked for loyally for more than 25 years finally settled the case.”

Denise worked for Tameside hospital from 1977. During her time there, her role went from trainee nurse to staff midwife, midwifery sister to specialist midwife, from which post she retired in October 2005 after an accident on the delivery ward.