Former British Sugar worker died from cancer after being ‘exposed’ to asbestos

Wissington sugar beet factory. Picture: Ian Burt

Wissington sugar beet factory. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: IAN BURT

A former welder died from cancer after being 'exposed' to asbestos at a British Sugar factory, an inquest has heard.

Terrence Reeve, 79, from Lynn Road, Wereham, near Downham Market, who worked at the British Sugar plant in Wissington from 1961 to 1994, died on June 16 this year as a result of mesothelioma, according to area coroner Yvonne Blake.

Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that develops in the lining that covers the outer surface of some of the body's organs.

It is usually linked to asbestos exposure.

The inquest took place at Norfolk Coroner's Court in Norwich on July 10 and heard that Mr Reeve died at Goodwins Hall Nursing and Residential Care Home on Goodwins Road, King's Lynn.

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He had moved permanently into the home after suffering a stroke in February 2019, according to Ms Blake.

She added that Mr Reeve, a grandfather and father-of-two, had been diagnosed with mesothelioma before having the stroke and was receiving palliative care for the disease.

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Mr Reeve, who also worked as a chemist, wrote in a statement on May 25 this year: "My former colleagues and I [at British Sugar Wissington factory] recall that we were frequently exposed to asbestos. The whole of the plant was covered in asbestos."

He described some of the asbestos on the pipes as "fiborous" and looking like plaster of Paris which would "crumble" onto the floor.

He added: "Wissington factory was always dusty...We were effectively eating asbestos."

Mr Reeve said that during his time in the factory, he and his colleagues were not given any health and safety advice in terms of working around asbestos and not given any special clothing.

His statement added that at some point British Sugar removed the asbestos from around the pipes but said: "At this point the damage had been done."

He accepted that health and safety had changed since he finished working for British Sugar.

But Mr Reeve was concerned about the impact of potential asbestos exposure for his wife, who regularly washed his work uniform, and two children.

No members of his family or British Sugar representatives were at the inquest and no statement from British Sugar was read out by the coroner.

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