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Retired Teacher Looking For Help From Former Colleagues After Mesothelioma Diagnosis

Expert Asbestos-Related Disease Lawyers Investigating Classroom Asbestos Exposure


A retired teacher diagnosed with mesothelioma has spoken out about the need to improve the monitoring and management of asbestos in schools as the country marks Action Mesothelioma Day (July 3).

Paul Crabtree, 67, was diagnosed with the terminal disease in January 2014 and is one of a growing number of teachers and school workers who are suffering from illnesses caused by exposure to harmful asbestos decades ago.

Speaking on Action Mesothelioma Day he has joined specialist asbestos-related disease lawyers at Irwin Mitchell in calling for improvements in the way asbestos in schools is monitored, managed and removed. The annual event aims to raise awareness of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases, promote on-going research to find a cure and alert others to the serious risks asbestos can pose.

Paul has instructed Irwin Mitchell to investigate how he was exposed to the deadly material whilst working as a school teacher, and hopes that former colleagues or pupils will come forward to help provide vital information.

He believes his exposure to asbestos occurred when he was employed as a religious education teacher at the Bessemer Boys School in Hitchin, Hertfordshire from 1972 to 1988. The school later became Hitchin School and has since been demolished.

Paul, a father-of-two, recalls working in a prefabricated classroom which had an asbestos roof and also described asbestos being removed from the school boiler room during the early 1980s. The boiler room, was located next to the staff room and contemporary documents detailing the removal works have suggested that the removal of asbestos may not have been carried out safely.

Paul and his legal team at Irwin Mitchell are now appealing for any former pupils or workers from the school to come forward with any memories they have of the asbestos removal works or the presence of asbestos within the school and what measures were in place to protect teachers and students from inhaling the deadly dust and fibres.

Natalia Rushworth, an expert asbestos-related disease lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, said: 

Expert Opinion
“Action Mesothelioma Day provides a major opportunity to raise awareness of this fatal cancer and the on-going presence of asbestos in many schools, hospitals and universities.

“We are seeing more and more cases like Paul’s, where people are being affected by asbestos-related diseases, despite never working in the industries traditionally associated with the material such as construction or ship-building.

“At Irwin Mitchell we have regularly called for a full risk register documenting in its entirety the presence of asbestos in public buildings including schools, as well as a programme of inspections to regularly monitor the material. This would enable the safe and timely removal of the most harmful material.

“We are determined to find the answers Paul needs about his exposure to asbestos and would urge anyone who recalls conditions within Bessemer Boys School in Hitchin to come forward with information about the presence of the material and the safety measures, if any, implemented to reduce the risks of exposure during the asbestos removal works.”
Natalia Rushworth-White, Solicitor

Paul, who spent 33 years teaching before his retirement in 2005, said: “I was forced to retire at the age of 57 due to health concerns and I was determined to make the most of my retirement. Sadly, my mesothelioma diagnosis will rob me of that time and I can’t help but feel angry and upset that I was exposed to asbestos doing the job I loved.

“My focus now is on getting the answers I feel I deserve about why more wasn’t done to protect people from asbestos in schools and to raise awareness of mesothelioma.  Many schools still have asbestos within them today and more needs to be done to protect teachers and students from the clear danger asbestos still poses.

“I hope any former colleagues or pupils who remember anything about asbestos at Bessemer School will come forward and help me secure justice so that I may hold those responsible for my exposure to asbestos responsible for their failure to protect me from the hazardous dust and fibres.”

Anyone with information on the presence of asbestos at Bessemer Boys School in Hitchin, or any safety measures put in place to protect staff and pupils from exposure should contact Natalia Rushworth on 0207 4213 900 or email Natalia.Rushworthwhite@IrwinMitchell.com

If you or a loved one has been affected by an asbestos related illness, our solicitors can help you to claim compensation. See our Asbestos Claims page for more information.

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