Southampton ship builder David Williams's exposure to asbesto killed wife, Hazel

First published in News Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Senior Features Writer

“IT’S just not fair.”

Those were the words of a distraught widower who broke down at the inquest of his wife who was killed by asbestos.

David Williams worked with the deadly fibres for years fitting out Southampton ships including QE2 for the company J I Thornycroft but he said he is unharmed.

But his wife Hazel Williams, 71, was killed from the disease after coming into contact with the deadly particles when she cleaned her husband’s work clothes during the ’60s and ’70s.

The retired medical secretary died from mesothelioma on August 1 at Oakhaven Hospice in Lymington, an inquest at Southampton Coroner’s Court heard.

Mrs Williams’s words, written in her own statement, “My exposure to asbestos” were read out to the court. She described “vigorously shaking” the “filthy” overalls “caked in dust” before washing them. She said when David left for a job with the Central Electricity Generating Board in 1978 they provided facilities there to wash the overalls and asbestos-ridden clothes.

Mrs Williams developed a bad chest in the summer of 2009 before tests confirmed she had the fatal disease. The report revealed the pensioner could not understand why she had the disease at first because she had only ever worked in offices and shops. Deputy coroner Gordon Denson recorded a verdict of death due to an industrial disease. “Hazel was exposed to asbestos when cleaning her husband’s overalls which were covered in asbestos dust,” he said.

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