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Daughter’s asbestos warning after father dies 50 years on from exposure

PUBLISHED: 09:04 15 April 2018 | UPDATED: 14:44 15 April 2018

David Spooner with his daughter Rachael on Christmas Day 2016 - a week and one day before his death. Photo; Rachael Fretter

David Spooner with his daughter Rachael on Christmas Day 2016 - a week and one day before his death. Photo; Rachael Fretter

Archant

The daughter of an engineer who died from a rare asbestos-related cancer is urging people to understand the dangers of the toxic substance.

David Spooner in 2014, prior to his mesothelioma diagnosis. Photo: Rachael FretterDavid Spooner in 2014, prior to his mesothelioma diagnosis. Photo: Rachael Fretter

Rachael Fretter said her dad David Spooner was diagnosed with mesothelioma in August 2016 having been exposed to asbestos when he was aged 19.

Over the following five months his condition rapidly deteriorated and he died on January 2 last year, aged 70.

Since then, Mrs Fretter, who lives near Norwich, has been raising awareness about the substance, which was once commonly used for insulation.

She said: “After my dad was diagnosed, it was unbelievable how quickly his health declined and it was heartbreaking to see him like that.

Rachael Fretter who is highlighting the dangers of asbestos after her dad died from a cancer linked to breathing in the material. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYRachael Fretter who is highlighting the dangers of asbestos after her dad died from a cancer linked to breathing in the material. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

“It is so toxic and people really don’t understand the dangers it can possess.

“How many people are aware that even when replacing parts of your home there might be asbestos lying there.

“All it takes is a tiny fibre being absorbed into your body and 40 to 50 years later you can have a huge problem on your hands.”

Mrs Fretter said her dad, who lived in Sheffield, was working as an apprentice when he was exposed.

Decades later, in the spring of 2016, he started feeling unwell and was found to have fluid in his lungs.

It was initially believed to be pneumonia, but a biopsy revealed it was mesothelioma - an aggressive cancer which develops in the lining of the lungs.

The cancer is often associated with asbestos exposure.

Mrs Fretter, who works for the Norwich Business Improvement District (BID), said: “Someone told me it is like being suffocated from the inside out.

“By November it was very apparent he was suffering, and leading up to Christmas he had lost weight and his appetite.

“You would not want your worst enemy to go through something like that.”

Asbestos is now banned in the UK, but buildings constructed before 2000 may still have the substance in them.

It is when asbestos-containing material is disturbed that fibres can be released and breathed in.

Solicitor Phoebe Osborne, who works with the Anglia Asbestos Disease Support Group, said the number of asbestos victims was increasing.

The support group is meeting on April 16 from 11am at Postwick Village Hall.

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