AN INQUEST has opened into the death of a 96-year-old retired builder and welder from Berkeley who is believed to have been affected by asbestos.

Gloucestershire assistant coroner Katy Skerrett was told Ronald Stanley Hicks of Old Brookend, Berkeley, had been formally identified by his nephew David Hicks after his death on January 13.

"He was diagnosed with asbestos-related lung disease in 2003 and was treated at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital," said coroner's officer Terry Onions.

"He is believed to have been exposed while working as a builder and welder in Sharpness docks.

"The cause of death has yet to be ascertained. Histology test results are awaited. Tissue has also been sent to Sheffield Hospital for fibre assay."

The inquest was adjourned till July 20.