Concerns Raised That Illness Could Be Linked To Primary School
A former primary school teacher from Devon who was diagnosed with asbestos-related cancer has joined with lawyers to launch an emotional plea for answers regarding how she came to develop the illness.
Sheila Yeo, 76, from Newton Abbott, developed symptoms including breathlessness and fatigue in February 2019, and three months later it was confirmed that she had developed mesothelioma – a cancer of the lining of the lungs caused by exposure to asbestos materials several decades previously.
Following the news, she instructed specialist asbestos-related disease lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate how she developed the illness and whether it may be linked to her working life.
Now, as part of their ongoing efforts, the legal experts and Sheila are calling on anyone who worked with her at Highweek Primary School in Devon between 1982 - 2003 to come forward and shed light on the presence of asbestos at the site.
Expert Opinion“While asbestos exposure is most commonly associated with industrial environments, we have seen a growing number of cases where people are thought to have come into contact with it in public buildings like schools or hospitals.
We are very concerned by the information provided by Sheila, but we now require more detail regarding the presence of asbestos at Highweek Primary School if we are going to help her secure answers in relation to her illness.
It would be much appreciated if anyone with knowledge of the school would be able to come forward and support our efforts.”
Rebecca Buxton - Associate Solicitor
Looking back on her time at Highweek Primary School, Sheila recalled: “I used to create wall displays and pin items to the ceiling while decorating my classrooms, so if there was asbestos within the fabric of the building, exposure may have occurred then.
“I also taught PE and netball during my time there and I remember lessons taking place in the canteen on the site. This building was found to have asbestos in the roof and it may have been disturbed by balls striking it.
“A demolition project also took place at the site around the year 2000 and that could have been another moment when asbestos may have been released. During this period my class was housed in the Woodwork Room in Coombeshead Lower School (The old Highweek Boys School). The surrounding temporary huts which were found to have contained asbestos were demolished whilst we were there."
Sheila added that a recent Freedom of Information request undertaken by Irwin Mitchell suggested that asbestos materials were within the school.
Discussing her illness, she said: “I was devastated to get the news of my illness and it has raised many questions about when I came into contact with asbestos.
“I am desperate for answers regarding how this happened and am also concerned that I could be far from the only person affected. It would be much appreciated if anyone that might have some knowledge could come forward and help me get the answers I need.”
Anyone with information which may assist this case is asked to contact Rebecca Buxton at Irwin Mitchell’s Bristol office on 0117 926 1574 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Find out more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in handling asbestos-related disease cases