Brother and sister appeal to former Blackpool telephone exchange workers over dad’s sudden death
A brother and sister whose dad died suddenly of asbestos related cancer during the pandemic are hoping for answers from his former colleagues at Blackpool telephone exchange.
Posted on 26 July 2022
Peter Kennerley, of Blackpool, died aged 77 in June 2021 after his health rapidly declined following a mesothelioma diagnosis in April 2021.
It is believed Peter came into contact with lethal asbestos during his time working at the GPO in Blackpool and other locations in the North West during the 1960s.
As a telephone engineer he was involved in clearing out old equipment from the 1930s exchange when it was being moved to a more modern building next door in Abingdon Street.
Much of the equipment contained asbestos, which was disturbed as old cables were removed, releasing asbestos dust and fibres into the atmosphere.
Now Peter’s son and daughter, Richard Kennerley and Melissa Bannister are appealing to other former telephone engineers who also recall working at the Blackpool telephone exchange to confirm their dad’s recollection of his time there.
Richard and Melissa cared for their dad after his diagnosis with mesothelioma, a cancer that is caused by contact with asbestos, and did their best to make his final few months as comfortable as possible.
Melissa moved up from her home in Daventry to live with her dad during the pandemic, but he suffered a rapid decline, enduring a chest drain, appetite loss, severe pain and weight loss.
Before any cancer treatment could begin, Peter became so ill that he was taken into Blackpool Victoria Hospital in June 2021 and because of covid-19 visiting restrictions, only Richard was allowed daily visits to see him.
Melissa was allowed to join her brother to be at their dad’s bedside to say their final goodbyes on 24 June.
In a statement Richard and Melissa said:
“We had lost our mother only four years earlier and although dad was grieving, he had got used to living alone. He was a vegetarian and liked cooking and making coffee with his fancy machine. He was only in his mid 70s and we expected a good few more years with him.
“After he started to become breathless and lost weight, the mesothelioma diagnosis came as a shock to us all. The speed at which he deteriorated was very upsetting, we never expected to lose our dad so soon.
“It’s shocking that dad should lose his life so painfully and so quickly because of working conditions in circumstances that he never knew were dangerous back in the 1960s.
“We are hoping that some of dad’s former colleagues will be able to help us confirm what he told us about his time working at Blackpool telephone exchange, about the cables that had to be removed and the asbestos that was disturbed.”
Richard and Melissa have instructed Leigh Day solicitor Louisa Saville to investigate their dad’s contact with asbestos as an employee of the GPO.
Louisa Saville said:
“We are hoping to identify other telephone engineers, some who may have known Peter, who worked at Blackpool telephone exchange and other exchanges in the North West in the early 1960s to gather further detail about the ways in which he was exposed to asbestos. Sadly, due to the speed with which the mesothelioma took hold, it was not possible to obtain a lifetime statement from Peter.”
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