Industrial disease killed ex-teacher

Michael Butterworth, former head of economics at Arnold School, who died in March.
Michael Butterworth, former head of economics at Arnold School, who died in March.
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A FATHER who dedicated his life to teaching, died after being struck down by an industrial disease, a court heard.

Arnold School’s former head of economics Michael Butterworth lost his battle with cancer in March, four years after being told he had contracted a fatal asbestos-related form of the disease.

The 76-year-old’s family believe he may have come into contact with the deadly substance in his early 20s, when he was drafted to Portsmouth to serve his two years national service in the Royal Navy.

But at an inquest yesterday, Blackpool coroner Anne Hind heard it was not until 2006 that the otherwise healthy father-of-two, of Hall Park Drive, Lytham, was diagnosed with mesothelioma.

His wife, Maureen, told The Gazette: “He started to show symptoms in June then in February he was told he only had one or two years to live.

“It came as quite a shock to him to find he had got this disease.

“He lived life as best he could and he never talked about his cancer. He never gave in to it and carried on as best he could, and that was how he dealt with it.”

As a teacher, he worked at St Joseph’s College on Newton Drive and then St Mary’s Roman Catholic High School, before joining Arnold School, Lytham Road, South Shore, in 1978 and spending 18-years as a department head.

Mrs Butterworth added: “He was very involved in rugby and sport in general at Arnold.

“He took rugby tours to Australia and became president of the Old Arnoldian society, which was unusual because he was not an Old Arnoldian – a former pupil – himself.

“He edited the magazine for 10 years and he enjoyed his time there and everything he was involved with.”

Mr Butterworth died in March, 48 hours after he was admitted to Bispham’s Trinity Hospice to have his medication assessed – and after surviving more than twice as long as doctors predicted.

Dr Mark Sissons, a consultant pathologist at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, said a post-mortem revealed a large tumour in his chest and the official medical cause of death was described as malignant mesothelioma due to exposure to asbestos.

As a result, a verdict of death from industrial disease was recorded, but Mrs Hind said she could not be certain when Mr Butterworth was exposed to the asbestos.