A RETIRED engineer died as a result of exposure to asbestos.

John Simpson, of Hill Lane, Southampton died of cancer caused by exposure to the substance in March.

An inquest heard how the 78-year-old had been exposed to the asbestos several times while working at the Billingham plant of Imperial Chemical Industries from 1958-1966.

In a statement taken before his death, Mr Simpson said he had first been exposed to asbestos while servicing boilers in the plant which were lagged with the substance.

“I had to remove the asbestos with hammers or my hands.

“It was a dusty, dirty environment," he said

Senior Coroner Grahame Short concluded that Mr Simpson's death was the result of Industrial disease.

In a statement his widow, Charlotte Scott Beveridge thanked the staff at Southampton General and the Royal Marsden Hospital where Mr Simpson received treatment during his illness.

She also paid tribute to her husband: “John displayed a determination to live, supported by his friends and family.

"He never gave up."