'We miss him terribly' - Widow's heartbreak after losing Sheffield steel worker husband to asbestos-related cancer

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The widow of a former Sheffield steel worker has spoken of her heartbreak after losing her husband to asbestos-related cancer.

The family of great-grandfather Dennis Rodgers, aged 79, from Eckington, is now looking for people who worked with him anytime between the 1960s up until 1991 when he was employed at what was AEI telecommunications.

Dennis, a keen footballer who was advised by his union to have asbestos exposure listed on his medical records, went on to die of a cancer related to it.

HIs wife Glenice, who provided her husband with round the clock care at home before his death, says her husband was in 'absolute agony' when he died after doctors spent months investigating his condition.

The widow, who was married to Dennis for 57 years, has spoken of her heartbreak over his death.

“It started with a pain in his chest,” she said.

“He went to the hospital for X-rays and was referred to a lung specialist and had every sort of test going. At first they said it was pneumonia or emphysema and he was put on antibiotics. Every month he’d have a check-up with the consultant. He lost lots of weight and had an MRI and loads of scans.

“They then thought he had gall stones and metastasis of the liver. He had two lots of chemotherapy which made him very ill.”

After dad-of- one Dennis passed away, on February 10 last year, a post mortem revealed he died from asbestos related lung cancer.

Glenice added: “Dennis was a solid union bloke and I remember in the sixties he was advised by his union, the ASTMS, to have exposure to asbestos listed on his medical records. We believed a former doctor had done it but we can’t find a record.

“When I met Dennis, in 1958, he worked as a French polisher at Cravens who made railway carriages in Sheffield. He worked there until 1961 and then moved to a steel works in Sheffield.

“During his time with AEI he worked all over the country primarily in phone exchanges. He was first employed as a wirefitter before being upgraded to the position of installer.

Glenice, who had been married to Dennis for 57 years when he died, is particularly keen to speak to anyone who worked for GEC Telecommunications in the 1960s and 70s. She wants to understand what level of exposure her husband would have had to asbestos.

She added: “Dennis died just after his 80th birthday and we miss him terribly. We met in Sheffield at a fairground. He was on the waltzer and I wanted to get on with my friends but they wouldn’t get off so we just got on with them!

“He was very fit then. A keen footballer, he was also in the games league at the pub and grew tomatoes and cucumber on our windowsills at home. In fact he had such success with his vegetables he went on to get an allotment.

“He was the kind of man who would get up in the morning and say ‘Don’t bother cooking today Glenice, we’ll go to Cleethorpes for fish and chips’. We loved going out in the car, we’d just drive and get lost in the days before sat nav but we’d always find our way home.”

Madelene Holdsworth, who is the head of the industrial disease department at Gordon & Slater said: “Glenice is desperate to find out what her husband did to cause his death. If you worked at GEC as a wirefitter or you worked with Dennis Rodgers at all, we would like to speak to you."