Wandsworth widower launches appeal after wife dies of mesothelioma

Wandsworth Guardian: Margaret James, of Wandsworth Margaret James, of Wandsworth

A widower whose wife died after being exposed to asbestos at work is appealing to her ex-colleagues for information on working conditions.

Former playgroup worker Margaret James, of Wandsworth, died of mesothelioma aged 70 in October 2013.

The mum of two was a playgroup worker from 1969 to 1996, working mainly at Old Chesterton School, Battersea Park Road.

Mrs James believed she was exposed to asbestos when working at the school, which has since been converted into flats.

Sometimes boys at the school used to kick the walls and doors in the school corridor, with Mrs James regularly sweeping up debris from crumblings asbestos lagging behind pipes.

Husband Kenneth James, with help from legal experts Irwin Mitchell, is now appealing for former colleagues to come forward with any information they may have on working conditions.

Alice Humphreys, asbestos disease expert, said: "Perhaps the most tragic aspect of Margaret’s story is that she was exposed to asbestos while doing a job she loved, at a school where she worked tirelessly for many years.

"We appeal to anyone with information about the presence of asbestos and working conditions at the school in those days, to get in touch, as their evidence could greatly assist us in securing justice for Margaret’s family."

Mr James said: "We were devastated when we were told Margaret’s diagnosis, and then to lose her just a year later was heartbreaking.

"It’s awful to think that she was exposed to asbestos by simply going to work, and to see her suffering was terrible. We want to ensure we get justice for her."

Research has found asbestos is present in 75 per cent of UK schools, while 123 male teachers and 68 female teachers dying of mesothelioma.

Between 1981 and 2005 78 men and 13 women in Wandsworth have died of the disease.

Anyone who can help can call Alice Humphreys at Irwin Mitchell Solicitors on 0207 421 4730 or email alice.humphreys@irwinmitchell.com.


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