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Norfolk railway enthusiast died as the result of asbestos exposure

PUBLISHED: 13:55 25 October 2018 | UPDATED: 08:38 26 October 2018

Michael Bird, at Old Station House on Mid-Norfolk Railway at Kimberley Park, died as a result of asbestos exposure. Picture: Simpson Millar

Michael Bird, at Old Station House on Mid-Norfolk Railway at Kimberley Park, died as a result of asbestos exposure. Picture: Simpson Millar

Archant

A Norfolk rail enthusiast died as a result of past exposures to deadly asbestos dust whilst working for BT, an inquest has heard.

Michael Bird, of The Old Station House in Kimberley, near Wymondham, was diagnosed in April 2016 with mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer of the lining of the lung linked to past exposures to asbestos dust. He died of this disease on August 5, aged 80 at his home.

At the inquest on October 18, the Coroner held that Mr Bird died as a result of exposure to asbestos dust at his place of work and gave a verdict of industrial disease.

The solicitor instructed by his family, Helen Grady of Simpson Millar, said: “This case is very sad and we need to be aware that the past exposures of the 1970s and 80s can have dreadful consequences for some people.

“Through the trade union, the firm have acted for a lot of former BT workers who were negligently exposed to asbestos dust and fibres through their work. BT therefore accepted responsibility early on and this was a huge relief to the family.”

Mr Bird leaves behind a wife of 55 years, Valerie, five children and 14 grandchildren with ages ranging from two to 27.

His daughter Catherine Sweetman said: “As a former cardiothoracic nurse, I have previously nursed people with mesothelioma and so know just how insidious this awful disease can be.

“From the time of dad’s diagnosis, we used the Mesothelioma UK website and received a lot of support through their helpline. Dad was so pleased with the assistance from this charity that he made a large and generous donation and this will help with further research and help others suffering from mesothelioma.”

Mr Bird also received support towards the end of his life from the palliative care nurses at the Priscilla Bacon Lodge Hospice.

“Sadly, when he requested a hospice bed, there were none available,” said his daughter. “Dad made a large and very generous donation to the hospice to help other people suffering and in the hope that beds not being available at end of life stages for people who request this will be a thing of the past.”

Mr Bird was well known locally for running the Old Station house for the past 16 years with his wife something that was a lifetime dream.

He was involved with the Mid Norfolk Railway and for his wake the railway commissioned a train something they had not previously done.

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