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Appeal to trace dockers who worked with Patsy Holland unloading asbestos in the Millwall Docks in the 1960s

PUBLISHED: 11:57 22 June 2018 | UPDATED: 07:55 25 June 2018

Patsy Holland (left) on his wedding day with his best man, footballer Dennis Sorrell who played for Orient. Picture source: Holland family

Patsy Holland (left) on his wedding day with his best man, footballer Dennis Sorrell who played for Orient. Picture source: Holland family

Holland family

Wendy Holland is living on borrowed time after being diagnosed with the deadly mesothelioma “asbestos disease” caused by hugging her dad as a toddler when he came home every night from working in the docks in the 1960s.

She would jump up and greet her dad when he came back from the Millwall and Royal Docks unloading deadly asbestos cargoes.

Lawyers this week are trying to trace the dock employers for compensation to pay for desperate treatment for Wendy, now aged 51, and are appealing for anyone who remembers working with Patsy Holland in the 1960s and 70s.

“I’m determined to fight this horrible disease and go about my life as much as possible,” she says. “But a sunny day is never sunny with mesothelioma hanging over us.

“I get terrible pain days after treatment, but will continue for as long as it works.”

The mother-of-three is using up her life savings to pay for immunotherapy treatment to keep the cancer at bay.

“I was a baby when I jumped up to greet my father,” Wendy explains. “It’s devastating knowing that our lives have been turned upside down by the most natural act of affection between a parent and child.”

Her dad, sometimes known in the docks as ‘Paddy’ or ‘Roadrunner’, always picked up his little girl the minute he came home and carried her on his shoulders—with the deadly asbestos dust still on his clothes and his bushy hair.

“The dockers were a brotherhood who stuck together to help each other,” Wendy points out.

I hope that hearing my story may help others who might have been exposed to asbestos dust at the docks to be aware of potential aftereffects.”

Her solicitor Peter Williams, from Fieldfisher law firm, is appealing to anyone who remembers Patsy to pursue a compensation claim for Wendy from her late father’s employers to help pay for further treatment. She is the youngest claimant all the mesothelioma cases he has handled in 20 years.

He said: “I was shocked when Wendy came to me for help and I heard her age. This shouldn’t happen to anyone, least of all a woman in her 50s.

“This is a heart-breaking case of men working hard for their families unknowingly sentencing them to a terrible future.”

The Holland family also included footballer Pat Holland, Patsy’s cousin, who played for West Ham and became a coach at Spurs.

Patsy’s friends included Leyton Orient and Chelsea player Dennis Sorrell, who was best man at his wedding. The friends often drank in Bethnal Green’s Duke of Wellington pub. Patsy retired from the docks in the 1970s to run the General Havelock pub in Ilford. He died in 1993 in his early 50s.

Wendy, now living in Muswell Hill in north London, was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2016 and given less than two years to live. Wendy is now on “borrowed time”.

The lawyers at Fieldfisher are asking anyone who remembers working with Patsy Holland unloading asbestos around 1965 to contact Peter Williams on 020-7861 4825, or emailing Peter.williams@fieldfisher.com.

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