Businessman, 83, dies from cancer 'while developing boilers'

Millionaire businessman, 83, who founded heating giant Worcester Bosch dies from cancer after ‘inhaling asbestos fibres while developing his own boilers in 1960s’

  • Cecil Duckworth CBE had an estimated fortune of more than £40million
  • Philanthropist founded heating heating giant Worcester Bosch in the 1960s
  • His widow Beatrice claimed he died of cancer caused by his famous boilers 

A millionaire businessman who founded heating giant Worcester Bosch died from cancer which he contracted from his famous boilers, his widow has claimed.

Cecil Duckworth CBE, who built Worcester Warriors into one of the country’s most prominent rugby union clubs, featured in the Sunday Times Rich List with an estimated fortune of £40million.

Last month the 83-year-old Worcester-based philanthropist died from cancer that started in the lining of Mr Duckworth’s lungs.

An inquest on December 11 ruled that his death had been caused by ‘malignant pulmonary mesothelioma’ that is commonly caused by inhaled asbestos fibres. 

Mr Duckworth’s heartbroken widow Beatrice, 82, has now claimed her husband probably inhaled the deadly fibres while developing his famous boilers in the 1960s. 

Cecil Duckworth CBE, who built Worcester Warriors into one of the country’s most prominent rugby clubs, featured in the Sunday Times Rich List with an estimated fortune of £40million

Mr Duckworth’s heartbroken widow Beatrice, 82, has now claimed her husband probably inhaled the deadly fibres while developing his famous boilers in the 1960s

Mr Duckworth is credited with pioneering the first combination boilers in the UK through his company Worcester Engineering Co Ltd. His boilers became so popular the company was awarded the Royal Warrant to supply hot water products to the Royal Family

What’s the difference between mesothelioma and lung cancer?

While mesothelioma and lung cancer can develop after exposure to asbestos, each occurs in different areas of the body. 

Lung cancer develops in the lung itself, while mesothelioma usually develops in the lining of the lung. Mesothelioma can also develop in the lining of the abdomen, heart or testes.  

The two cancers grow differently. Lung cancer tends to grow in individual masses, known as nodules, with defined boundaries. 

Mesothelioma starts as tiny tumour nodules that scatter the mesothelial lining, and grow together to form a sheath-like tumour around the organ.

Lung cancer has a tendency to spread or metastasise early to other organs, while mesothelioma tends to be a more locally aggressive disease that remains within one body cavity.

Source: Abestos.com.

Asbestos material was often used in insulation panels in the casing which was fitted to the sides of the first boilers in order to improve efficiency.

Speaking after his inquest at Worcestershire Coroners’ Court, Mrs Duckworth said: ‘It must have been something which he picked up when he was first making the boilers and it lay dormant all these years.

‘It was unexpected, it only materialised in the past two or three years. He had no idea, it was just very unfortunate. There is no silver bullet with these things. 

‘He had one day’s illness in his life, he had remarkable health and only had that one day off work so this came as a total shock. He wasn’t used to being unwell.’

Mr Duckworth is credited with pioneering the first combination boilers in the UK through his company Worcester Engineering Co Ltd. 

His boilers became so popular the company was awarded the Royal Warrant to supply hot water products to the Royal Family. 

The firm quickly expanded and in 1992 he sold it to Robert Bosch for £30million, who later rebranded it Worcester Bosch.

Yesterday’s inquest heard his early work on his heating systems may have contributed to him developing cancer.

More than 2,600 people are diagnosed with malignant pulmonary mesothelioma each year in the UK which the NHS says is ‘rarely possible to cure’.

Symptoms can include shortness of breath and chest pain with an approximate 12-month life expectancy for patients after diagnosis.

Mr Duckworth was one of the UK’s biggest philanthropists who supported Acorn’s Children Hospice and several other charities. 

Cecil Duckworth with his team and a prototype Firefly pressure jet boiler 


Last month the 83-year-old Worcester-based philanthropist died from cancer that started in the lining of Mr Duckworth’s lungs. An inquest on December 11 ruled that his death had been caused by ‘malignant pulmonary mesothelioma’ commonly caused by inhaled asbestos fibres

Thousands of well-wishers lined the streets for the funeral of the businessman who also owned Premiership rugby club Worcester Warriors.

During his funeral last month, his coffin was driven past the team’s Sixways Stadium and his famous Worcester Bosch factory.   

Mrs Duckworth added: ‘As a family we were quite overwhelmed by all the tributes we received from everyone, and everyone who stood and paid their respects as the cortege went past.

‘We thought that was a wonderful thing to do and it was a great source of comfort to us.

‘It was something we had never thought about or envisaged but it was an amazing thing for people to do and we were really touched.

‘We were married for 59 years, next September would have been our 60th anniversary, but my family were here with us having been in a bubble for a long time. That was very comforting.’

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