Sons of Mirfield engineer who died from asbestos cancer appeal for help

The sons of a former instrument engineer from Mirfield who died from asbestos-related cancer are appealing for their dad’s former colleagues to come forward with information on his working conditions.

Friday, 29th October 2021, 10:30 am
John Broscombe

John Stewart Broscombe, 84, died on July 23, 2020 after being diagnosed with mesothelioma, a terminal cancer caused by exposure to asbestos, often decades earlier.

Following their dad’s death, his sons, James Broscombe, 48, and Mark Broscombe, 52, instructed asbestos-related disease experts at Irwin Mitchell to investigate and identify where his exposure to asbestos may have taken place.

James and Mark have joined the legal team in appealing to their dad’s former workmates at ICI in Huddersfield and Pye Unicam in Cambridge to come forward with any information they have on the working conditions faced during his time with both firms from the 1950s through to the 1970s.

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Oliver Collet, the specialist asbestos-related disease lawyer representing the family, said: “John was a fit man in good health, so his mesothelioma diagnosis and untimely death came as a real shock to the family, particularly after John’s brother had passed away in 2015.

“The progression of the disease did not allow John to pass on many details of his work history to his family before he passed away.

"However, we’re determined to support James and Mark as they seek the answers they are looking for on how their dad came to be exposed to asbestos.

“Any information his former colleagues could supply on his time at ICI and later Pye Unicam could make all the difference to the investigation and give the family the answers they deserve.”

Born in 1936 in Mirfield, John was known in his school days by his middle name of Stewart.

He began his career aged 16 as an apprentice at Huddersfield chemical producer ICI in 1952. Employed as an instrument engineer for the chemical plant, for 18 years he would access all areas of the factory, working on the chemical plant and machinery.

As a result of his specialist work, John became the ICI expert for any issues relating to Pye Unicam instrumentation and as a result, he was head-hunted and joined Pye Unicam in July 1970.

He worked remotely for Pye Unicam (located on York Street, Cambridge) for the next 27 years, travelling nationally and internationally to help install Pye equipment or to undertake repairs and maintenance, before retiring in 1997.

John was dedicated to his work and met his wife Susan when she was a laboratory assistant at ICI. A widower since Susan’s death in March 2009, the couple had two sons together, Mark, 52, and James, 48.

John began to experience symptoms of indigestion, loss of appetite, back pain and difficulty sleeping in January 2020.

From March 2020, he had various investigations such as ultrasound, chest x-ray and a CT scan and was diagnosed with mesothelioma in June 2020.

Prior to his mesothelioma diagnosis, John lived a full and active life, devoting much of his time to the local community.

He spent a lot of time in his workshop and always had a number of projects on the go. These included the design and build of props and special effects for Spot-On Musical Theatre at Moldgreen URC and for Meltham Gilbert & Sullivan Society.

John was also a keen musician and singer, acting and singing at Spot-On Theatre and Meltham G&S Society. He also sang regularly in the choir at St John’s Church in Upper Hopton.

Speaking on behalf of the family, John’s son, James said: “The last few years have been so difficult for the whole family.

"Mum’s death, followed by dad’s brother Kenneth, was hard to take for all of us and then dad’s mesothelioma diagnosis was like a bolt from the blue.

“Given mum and dad met at ICI, we knew he worked there before joining Pye Unicam but don’t know a lot about his working conditions.

"He did confirm that he was exposed to asbestos during his employment, and we know he worked in environments where asbestos was about, but we need more help.

“Dad was with both firms for a long time and if anyone who does remember him could come forward and help us fill in the blanks we would be so grateful.

"Dad always gave so much of himself to everyone. He was dedicated to his work and the local community.

“He had gone through a lot in the last few years and didn’t deserve to suffer and have his life cut short at the hands of this terrible disease.

"Hopefully speaking out will jog someone’s memory and lead them to help us.”

Anyone with information that may assist with the case is asked to contact Oliver Collett on 0113 3946784 or email [email protected]