Sean's Story

Our family lives in fear of asbestos poisoning...all because of dad's job

A northern Ireland man has told how he and seven of his siblings are being treated for asbestos-related lung damage possibly passed on by their father who worked in a Belfast shipyard. 

Sean Rickard has told how out of nine brothers and sisters, seven have been diagnosed with lung damage linked to the lethal fibres. 

Another sibling has recently finished treatment for mesothelioma — a rare form of lung cancer attributed to exposure to asbestos during his childhood. 

Their father Patrick Rickard, who died in 1974 from a lung condition linked to asbestos, worked as a pipe coverer spraying the substance in Harland and Wolff shipyard from 1949 to 1969. Like all the men who worked there during the era, he was completely oblivious to the poison he was bringing home to his family on a daily basis. 

Nobody knew that every time he returned to the small two-bedroom house he lived in with his wife Annie and their nine children he was potentially condemning the people he loved most to death. 

At the very least, they all now live in the knowledge that at any time they could be diagnosed with a terminal illness because of their contact with asbestos. 


By Lisa Smyth, Belfast Telegraph, 26th July 2010

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