Shipyard worker was fighting for compensation

A FORMER shipyard worker has lost his fight against a killer industrial disease in the middle of a compensation battle.

Terry Henderson, 73, from Summerhill Road, Harton, South Shields, was diagnosed with mesothelioma in January 2006, but had suffered from the symptoms for much longer.

It is believed the engineer was exposed to asbestos, which triggers the lung disease, while serving his apprenticeship at Readheads, in South Shields.

He started a claim for compensation four years ago, and was originally awarded a six-figure sum.

But the company's insurers, Downlands, exploited a legal loophole, which means a claim cannot become active until mesothelioma becomes active.

Speaking to the Gazette in January last year, Mr Henderson said he felt "cheated" by the ruling, which could leave his family with nothing.

However, a legal battle to decide the extent of insurers' liability to pay compensation to the families of mesothelioma victims has now reached the High Court.

Thousands of families are awaiting the outcome of the test case, expected at the beginning of next month.

Mr Henderson's widow, Beryl, 71, said: "We started our claim for compensation in 2004, and we are still fighting for it."

The grandfather-of-two went to sea for five years after completing his apprenticeship, and became a maintenance engineer when he came ashore.

His last job was at Filtrona, where he worked for 27 years.

He had been retired for 11 years.

Mr Henderson was also a keen photographer, doing weddings, christenings and portfolios for aspiring models for the last 40 years. He had also spent 30 years taking publicity shots for the Westovians, Gilbert and Sullivan Society, and what is now South Shields Musical Productions.

After his death on June 1, Mrs Henderson received almost 100 sympathy cards, all paying tribute to "a great character" with "a tremendous sense of fun." She said: "He liked to stand at the bar, having a drink with the fellas, cracking jokes and starting off a discussion about something."

The couple, who met at Hedworth Dance Hall and courted for four years, would have celebrated their golden wedding anniversary in December.