Ken Hoggett worked at the giant Ferrybridge power station when three cooling towers collapsed in 100mph winds.
Nobody died in the accident, but tragedy struck generations later as the grandfather succumbed to an industrial disease.
The scaffolder had cleared up in clouds of dust at the site near Pontefract, West Yorkshire, inhaling deadly asbestos fibres which caused mesothelioma, an aggressive form of lung cancer. Barely two weeks after diagnosis, Mr Hoggett – who had suffered breathing problems for years – was dead.
Now his family is speaking out to warn others about the dangers.
A former member of the Green Howards regiment and a veteran of the invasion of Sicily and the D-Day landings, Mr Hoggett was of a generation which bore suffering in silence, according to his family.
His daughter Sue Stoppard, 57, said: “I think if other people have got concerns like my dad had they shouldn’t suffer in silence – they should get themselves checked. That’s why we are speaking out.
“We don’t know how many other people have yet to discover this. If people can read about us and think ‘Well, I should be tested’, there might be something they can do.
“Within less than a fortnight of finding out what he had, my dad was dead.”
He was 85 when he died and had been caring for his wife of 60 years Ann, who had her own health problems.
Mrs Hoggett, from Doncaster, started legal action against her husband’s former employers but passed away aged 89.
Sue, and the devoted couple’s other daughter Kay Cowx, 63, continued the action and now the company Joseph Nadin Ltd has paid out damages of £49,000 after admitting a breach of duty of care to its employee.
The family’s solicitor Rebecca Moore-Yelland, a personal injury specialist from the Doncaster office of Shaw & Co, said finding the firm and proving it employed men on site around the time of the collapse could be crucial in any further claims by other employees.
“The defendant was hard to track and identify given the lapse of time, but has now been firmly placed as an employer of men working at the power station in this era,” said the solicitor, who has many years’ experience in tracing former employers of people who worked with asbestos decades ago.
“The case also serves to illuminate the hazards of the industry at the time. It’s likely that many men will have some asbestos-induced disease dormant, which will come to light in the coming years, if it has not already.”
In sworn evidence, a co-worker of Mr Hoggett told Shaw & Co that health and safety at the time “received little more than lip service” with accidents caused by poor lighting and training, and inadequate warnings.
Mr Hoggett, who died in 2008, had also helped to mix and apply asbestos lagging with his bare hands before the collapse.
Mrs Stoppard, of Doncaster, said many workers like her father were told to help in the clear up.
“Everybody had to muck in and help, and they swept and cleaned everywhere,” she said.
She added: “We were determined to settle it out of dad’s memory – and for my mum because she wanted it to be done as well.
“The day that my dad found out that he had it he said ‘Something should be done about this’. Well, now it has.”
Mr Hoggett worked between 1964 and 1966 for a company called Joseph Nadin Ltd, believed to be based in Lancashire at the time.
It is no longer trading and, according to lawyers, is not believed to be connected to any other company of a similar name.