Lawyers Instructed To Investigate Working Conditions Mum-Of-Three Faced Before Mesothelioma Death
The family of a former university worker are appealing to her ex-workmates for help to establish how she was exposed to the asbestos that claimed her life.
Annie Leech, who was Annie or Andrea Leonard at the time she was working at UEA was diagnosed late last year with mesothelioma, a terminal cancer of the lining of the lung associated with exposure to asbestos, often decades previously.
Following her diagnosis, Annie instructed specialist asbestos-related disease lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate her illness and if it could be linked to her work history, However, she died in March this year before she could see her case concluded.
Annie’s husband, Phillip, is continuing his wife’s search for answers in her memory. Phillip has joined with his legal team at Irwin Mitchell to appeal to any of Annie’s former workmates to come forward with details about the conditions she worked under.
They are keen to trace anyone who worked with Annie during her time at the University of East Anglia (UEA) between 1973 and 1975. At the time she worked in the university’s careers centre before going on to in the end becoming a very senior civil servant at the Department of Health.
Expert Opinion“Annie’s death has understandably come as a huge loss to Philip and her children, who are still coming to terms with her passing.
“For the brief time that I knew her, Annie was clearly an amazing woman who has left a lasting impact not only on her family and friends but colleagues who remembered her as a pioneer and intellect in her field of mental health care.
“Annie had many questions on how she came to be exposed to asbestos, but sadly died before she could see her case concluded. We’re now determined to support Annie’s family in their search for answers in her memory.
“Asbestos is often associated with heavy industry, but its use was widespread, with public buildings such as schools and leisure facilities, homes and offices all containing the hazardous material.
“Nothing can bring Annie back, but if any of her former colleagues from the ‘70s could come forward with their memories of their working conditions, it would mean a lot to the family. It could help provide the family with the answers they’re looking for following the death of a wonderful woman.” Samantha Shaw - Senior Associate
Born Andrea Humphrey in 1948, Annie, had three daughters, Emily, Hannah and Lucy. She married Philip in 1996.
Prior to her death, Annie recalled that in 1973, she attended the career centre at UEA, which resulted in her securing a voluntary work position in the centre, which developed into an employed position.
At the time, UEA was still under construction. Before her death Annie said she remembered building work taking place and that she was unable to avoid walking through areas under construction. Workmen would also regularly come and go in the areas in which she worked.
Annie left UEA in 1975 when she and her then husband moved away from the area. Annie went on to have a highly successful career and was considered a considerable intellect, due to her influential work managing policies for mental health care.
In her spare time, Annie was a keen gardener, loved to travel and adored her husband and her three daughters.
Annie had been in good health until she began to experience breathlessness in late September last year and consulted her GP. Following tests, she was diagnosed with mesothelioma in October. Annie died in March, with Philip by her side.
Philip said: “Losing Annie to this horrible disease has been devastating for all of us. Even now, it hasn’t fully sunk in that we won’t see her again.
“When she received the mesothelioma diagnosis, we couldn’t believe it, as she had always been office based in her career. It’s only when she thought back to the construction work she was surrounded by in the 70s that we saw a possible link.
“The speed of Annie’s passing was shocking. Annie and I had
so many more plans for the future that have now been left in ruins. We thought we had years left together, but these have now been cruelly taken away especially as she was always so fit and active. The travel plans we had can never happen now.
“As soon as she was diagnosed, Annie was determined to investigate and find out the truth. If we can find some of those answers on her behalf, it will offer some comfort that at least we’ve been able to see her final wishes fulfilled.
“If anyone who worked with Annie at the time or who worked at the UEA back in the ‘70s could help us, we’d really appreciate it. I know it’s a long time ago now, but any details really could make all the difference.”
Anyone with information that could help Philip is asked to contact Samantha Shaw at Irwin Mitchell on 01223 791 815 or email firstname.lastname@example.org