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Tributes paid to farmworker

PUBLISHED: 09:00 22 August 2008 | UPDATED: 07:36 01 August 2010

A FARMWORKER who died in a freak accident at Stockton at the weekend has been described by a childhood friend as a "handy bloke" who loved his job.

Robert Henderson, known as Bob, died while working at Grove Farm on Saturday - the day before his birthday.

A farmworker who died in a freak accident at Stockton at the weekend has been described by a childhood friend as a "handy bloke" who loved his job.

Robert Henderson, known as Bob, died while working at Grove Farm on Saturday - the day before his birthday.

The 49-year-old was struck in the face by a hydraulic hose as he tried to transfer oxygen from one cylinder to another.

Glenn Leech, who has known Mr Henderson since school, described him as a "decent chap" and told the Journal he had spoken to the victim's brother, David, on Saturday night.

He said: "I said to him, 'It's Bobby's birthday tomorrow' and he said 'he's not going to make it'."

Mr Leech, 54, who met Mr Henderson at St Mary's Convent school in Beccles, regularly speaks to the farmworker's brother and said the family was still coming to terms with the accident. He said: "David doesn't show his emotions but he's cut up about it. He's like me, still suffering from shock."

Mr Leech, originally from Kirby Cane, said the victim was married and had two children, Robert and Angela. After growing up in Kirby Cane, his brother and two sisters, Sara and Rosemary, had stayed nearby.

Retired RAF administration officer Mr Leech last saw Mr Henderson, who lived in Beccles, in October when they went on a hot air balloon ride to celebrate a birthday. Recalling their years growing up together, Mr Leech said: "When we were kids we used to ride bikes together; I bought my first car from Bobby for £25.

"He was a bit of a wild boy. If he was going to climb a tree he would make sure he got higher than you did. He saw no fear. He was a proper boy - always doing something."

Mr Henderson, whose mother Barbara used to run the Beccles and District Table Tennis League, was very sporty, according to his childhood friend, playing badminton for Norfolk as well as football and table tennis.

In later years, the agricultural fitter, who was employed by Askews Haulage, had dedicated himself to work.

Mr Leech said: "He was a worker - always at work. Anything mechanical, he would turn his hand to it. He was a handy bloke."

An inquest into Mr Henderson's death was opened on Tuesday, when Greater Norfolk coronor William Armstrong heard he died after a hydraulic hose hit him in the face.

The coroner was told Mr Henderson was trying to transfer oxygen from one cylinder to another when the accident happened.

He had been in an outbuilding using a mini welding or cutting set when a joint separated from one of the cylinders and the hose struck him in the face.

The Health and Safety Executive is investigating the accident.

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