Rishton plumber’s cancer death after career ‘exposed’ to asbestos

A retired plumber was diagnosed with cancer after being exposed to asbestos while working at the Blackburn train station.

During his working life, Vincent Holland, born in Rishton, worked between 1948 and the early 1960s as a plumber for a company called Tattersall’s.

In 2014, he was diagnosed with mesothelioma – a cancer associated with asbestos exposure.

He died on July 30 this year at his home in Dill Hall Lane, Church.

READ MORE:Blackburn mother was exposed to asbestos when the roof of the market was demolished

During an inquest at Preston Coroner’s Court yesterday (September 9), Area Coroner Richard Taylor said: “He was diagnosed with rectal cancer in October 2019, which showed significant progression in April 2021.

“After discussions, he opted for community management and it was agreed it was best to treat him with supportive care.”

The inquest learned that Mr Holland, who was 90 when he died, had written a statement after his mesothelioma diagnosis saying the “only time” he was exposed to asbestos was when he worked for Tattersall’s.

In his statement, Mr Holland said: “It was a large company with large contracts across the country. We did a job at Edisford Bridge [in Clitheroe] putting up asbestos drains instead of cast iron drains, we had to grab them and I remember there was dust all over my pants.

“I was exposed to asbestos in many other jobs. It was an essential part of the job.

“Pipes would be left with asbestos. The laggers mixed asbestos with their bare hands and we often walked by when asbestos work was being carried out.”

In the statement he wrote before his death, Mr Holland also recalled a job he was working on at Blackburn train station where he said “no one was wearing a mask and it was very dusty”.

“We were removing an entire water system,” he said.

“They took out all the pipes. I remember eating my meals in the boiler house. It took me 12 weeks, but it could have been longer. No one was wearing a mask, it was very dusty.”

dr. Richard Robinson, who saw Mr Holland on July 17, two weeks before his death, said he was “tired and struggling”.

“It was thought this would be his last illness,” Dr. Robinson said in a statement.

“The cause of the deterioration was progressing rectal cancer. The district nurses were called by his partner because he had severe abdominal pain.”

Mr. Holland’s cause of death was recorded as rectal cancer, with mesothelioma being a contributing factor.

Coming back to a narrative conclusion, the coroner said there was “no doubt” that Mr Holland had been exposed to asbestos during his working life.

“It contributed to his death, but it didn’t cause it.”

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