Grosmont veteran in quest to help local youngsters

Dennis Shaw of Grosmont with his DVD. Photo by Dave Barry w111908b
Dennis Shaw of Grosmont with his DVD. Photo by Dave Barry w111908b

A GROSMONT nuclear test veteran wants to help local youngsters in their history and English lessons with a gift of pens, a CD Rom and a DVD.

Dennis Shaw (74), a former engineer who lives in the village’s Ings Terrace, worked on Christmas Island in the late 1950s clearing up after earlier nuclear tests.

His work included maintaining the island’s sewerage system.

He believes that since then, he and his family have suffered from chronic illness caused by his exposure to radiation on the island and along with fellow veterans is campaigning for recognition of their problems.

But his immediate aim is to interest young people in the last century’s two world wars and their aftermath.

He said: “I have a triple CD rom and a DVD compiled by the Royal British Legion for schools and young people covering history, English and citizenship.

“I want to lend them out to schools and I also have about 40 nuclear test veterans’ pens to give to a school.”

Mr Shaw suffers from skin cancer and deafness and has also had a number of heart attacks. He said that he worked on the island wearing only shorts and a hat with no mask or protective clothing.

He also believes that his exposure to radiation has caused serious ill-health to his family.

He explained that the children he and his former wife had before he served on Christmas Island were perfectly healthy but a daughter and grandchildren born after he worked there have suffered multiple serious illnesses.

His daughter Janet had an aorta bypass operation and spinal problems and a grandson now aged 24 was born with two sets of lower teeth.

His present wife Ann said: “He had to have all his teeth out and as a result was badly bullied at school.

“We recently had the annual general meeting of the Nuclear Test Veterans’ association and seventeen members have died since last year.

“They are now in their early seventies but many other people these days live a lot longer than that.

“We’re still fighting to get the recognition we’re due to.

“In July, if Dennis is well enough we’re going to join a group of veterans in London to hear an appeal in the High Court to allow the veterans to sue the government.”

Head of Sleights C of E Primary School Caroline Spencer said she would welcome the use of Mr Shaw’s CD and DVD and hopes that he may visit her school to talk to the children.

Mr Shaw can be contacted on telephone (01947) 895570.