Man dies after hospital wedding

IT should have been the beginning of a beautiful life together but Henry Collins' marriage to his sweetheart was to be one of his final acts.As he lay terminally ill in Ipswich Hospital the 51-year-old defied the pain caused by the asbestos-related lung condition that would cruelly claim his life by wedding his beloved partner Lynda.

IT should have been the beginning of a beautiful life together but Henry Collins' marriage to his sweetheart was to be one of his final acts.

As he lay terminally ill in Ipswich Hospital the 51-year-old defied the pain caused by the asbestos-related lung condition that would cruelly claim his life by wedding his beloved partner Lynda.

Six weeks later, on January 2 this year, he could fight no longer and he died in the hospital's Somersham ward.

In just 10 weeks, Mr Collins, of Bell Lane, Kesgrave, had gone from a healthy electrician very much in love with his future wife, and life itself, to falling victim to a silent killer.

Today Mrs Collins, 53, described her husband's death as a terrible waste.

She said: “It's very, very sad. It is such a stupid waste of such a lovely person.

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“It came out of the blue. We were originally given a diagnosis that he may live for anything up to a year but he was so ill that it was only ten weeks.

“He was determined to go on for as long as he could but obviously the illness beat us in the end. There was no stopping it.”

On Wednesday, Greater Suffolk coroner Dr Peter Dean found that Mr Collins' death was linked to exposure to asbestos during his work as an electrician.

Mr Dean recorded a verdict of death from industrial disease after the inquest heard that a post mortem revealed Mr Collins had died from respiratory failure due to asbestos.

The coroner told the inquest at Ipswich Crown Court that Mr Collins had been an electrician since 1968 and during that time he was exposed to asbestos-lined pipes and asbestos sheeting.

Mr Collins' death is the latest in a tragic list of lives which have been cut short by asbestos - a killer which The Evening Star is campaigning for there to be greater awareness of.

Mrs Collins, a nurse with 28 years' experience, said prior to her husband feeling slight breathlessness in September last year there had been no signs of the killer lurking inside his lungs.

Just a few weeks before they had enjoyed a holiday in Tunisia with plans in place for a December wedding. Neither had any idea that their happiness would be destroyed by the tiny fibres in Mr Collins' lungs.

Mrs Collins said: “We'd come back from holiday, he was working on our house and we'd thought he'd got asthma because he had a wheeze.

“He went to the GP once, then he was so breathless he went back and she told him she couldn't hear any lung sounds on that side.”

The keen clay pigeon shooter was first taken to Ipswich Hospital's emergency department on November 8 complaining of shortness of breath and chest pains.

On November 21, when his condition had rapidly deteriorated, the popular employee at BOC Gases in Hadleigh Road and his fiancé brought forward their wedding plans.

With the help of staff in Kirton ward, a bedside wedding ceremony was hastily arranged and the couple who had first met as pupils at Tower Ramparts School years before tied the knot four years after being reintroduced by friends.

Mrs Collins said: “They arranged it all in two hours for us. They laid on the cake and the balloons and the registrar came.

“We had as many people there as we could rustle in two hours.”

Once the illness took hold, Mr Collins had little time to reflect on how asbestos could so suddenly take his life but Mrs Collins said he did remember coming into contact with the deadly substance.

She said: “He wasn't aware of the dangers 30 years ago but he was able to recall when he'd worked with it.

“But he didn't go along the track of asking why weren't there any warnings because he realised that 30 years ago there weren't any warnings for anybody.”

Weblink www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos

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