Ex-aircraft press shop worker launches asbestos appeal after terminal cancer diagnosis

Richard Cousens

Richard Cousens worked at Hawker Siddeley in Hatfield during the mid-1970s. - Credit: Leigh Day

A former aircraft press shop worker at Hawker Siddeley’s Hatfield site is appealing for information from ex-colleagues about asbestos, after being diagnosed with terminal cancer.

Richard Cousens believes he was exposed to asbestos between 1973 and 1975 while working for Hawker Siddeley, a position he got through his brother, Charles Cousens, who worked for the aircraft manufacturer.

In the press shop where Richard worked, sheet metal came in from the adjacent foundry and was pressed into shape to form parts. There were around 30 workers in shop, and Richard’s job was to operate the metal press.

Richard would directly handle aluminium that had been heated for pressing, and he believes the heat-resistant gloves he wore to protect him may have been made of asbestos.

Maintenance staff who worked on boilers and pipework also operated nearby, and given the open layout of the factory floor, any asbestos dust and fibres released into the air during their work would be impossible for him to avoid.

Richard was given no warnings about the dangers of asbestos, and no masks were provided by Hawker Siddeley.

The 78-year-old felt well until September last year, when he noticed a pain in his chest and being short of breath. He was diagnosed with epithelioid mesothelioma a month later.

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Richard and the asbestos team at solicitors Leigh Day are appealing for information from anyone who worked at the press shop and foundry in the early 1970s, and may hold information regarding the use of asbestos.

This could be vital to Richard securing compensation that would help to provide for his family going forward.

“My client has an illness caused by exposure to asbestos and is appealing for anyone who worked at Hawker Siddeley at Hatfield, Hertfordshire, who knows about the use of asbestos within the foundry or press shop to come forward,” said Steven Dickens, mesothelioma claims lawyer at Leigh Day.

“Unfortunately, the illness that he suffers with is terminal and he and his family require help urgently.”

Hawker Siddeley – the company behing the famous Harrier jump jet – began producing aircraft at Hatfield Aerodrome in the early 1960s after purchasing the de Havilland Aircraft Company at the turn of the decade.

If you have any information, please contact Steven Dickens at SDickens@leighday.co.uk.