Roger Clarke, of Walney, Barrow, died of asbestos exposure – inquest

Roger Clarke, 73, died on February 6, 2023 at his home on Osprey Drive in Walney while receiving end-of-life care.

In a statement from his wife, Sandra Clarke, he was referred to as “my wonderful husband of over 53 years”.

She said they had “a good life” and “two brilliant sons,” the eldest of whom sadly succumbed to a brain tumor ten years ago.

A year later in 2014 Mr Clarke was diagnosed with prostate cancer from which he recovered.

In 2017 he was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a form of cancer caused by asbestos exposure, and was considered “stable” until 2022, when he developed spinal cancer while receiving immunotherapy for mesothelioma.

He underwent major surgery to treat his spinal cancer, leaving him paralyzed below the waist.

According to testimony given by Mr Clarke in a lawsuit before his death, he was employed by Vickers and later BAE Systems from 1965 to 2000, where he was regularly exposed to asbestos.

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Mr. Clarke described his role in sealing joints during the submarine building process. He worked with asbestos in a variety of ways, including the heat treatment that had to be applied to every welded joint.

He said he was never fitted with a mask and wrote:

“I only knew that asbestos is dangerous much later in my job.

“I was often covered from head to toe. It was like working in haze or fog.”

“I didn’t think about it and just accepted it as part of the job.

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“No one shared any complaints or they would have been kicked out.”

He wrote that he had seen young apprentices at the shipyard collecting asbestos dust and having “snowball fights” with it.

Mr Clarke was voluntarily laid off in 2000 before working as a driver for Hertz and most recently as a part-time airport taxi driver before retiring in 2014.

Mr. Clarke had obtained an “expert opinion” in 2018 and received it from Dr. Rudd, who said his life expectancy would have been 10.3 years had he not developed mesothelioma.

Deputy Cumbria Coroner Margaret Taylor concluded that Mr Clarke died of an industrial disease (mesothelioma).

She said: “I have considered that without the development of mesothelioma he could probably still be alive and have a few years to look forward to.”

Mr Clarke had written in his complaint: “Being diagnosed with mesothelioma after recovering from prostate cancer was a real blow.”

He said it came “out of the blue” as he was “healthy and active” until he got out of breath while out for a walk with his wife, who had to call 911.

Sandra Clarke wrote: “Mesothelioma is a truly terrible disease, my beloved husband’s life was cut short.”