Former Darlington College lecturer blames asbestos exposure for cancer diagnosis

A 73-year-old ex-lecturer at Darlington College has said that she believes her incurable lung disease can be traced to her time working at the County Durham institution in the late 1970s.

In what appears to be another sad reminder of the importance of asbestos air testing if asbestos may have been disturbed, and other services related to the management of the lethal substance, Margaret Curry’s legal team has indicated that she is likely to have encountered the deadly dust and fibres between 1975 and 1980.

It was during this time that Mrs Curry – maiden name Callan – was working at the old Cleveland Avenue site of what was then known as Darlington College of Technology, as a food science teacher.

Another saddening and devastating diagnosis

Mrs Curry was told that she was suffering from the fatal lung condition mesothelioma in November. The cancer of the lung lining develops due to the inhalation of asbestos fibres and dust, but does not show its symptoms until decades after the initial exposure.

Fears have arisen as a result of Mrs Curry’s diagnosis that thousands of staff and students could have come into contact with the harmful substance while building work was taking place at the site, from which the college moved over a decade ago to its current new-build site just off Haughton Road.

“Overalls… contaminated with asbestos dust”

Mrs Curry commented: “When the work was carried out at the college in Darlington, the workmen wore overalls which I believe were contaminated with asbestos dust.

“They passed through common areas in their overalls. The common areas near the rooms they were working in were noticeably dustier than usual.”

Meanwhile, the college’s Universities and College Union representative Dennis McCabe said: “I am shocked that a former member of staff has been taken ill.

“There were potentially thousands of students there at the time, and members of staff, and it’s concerning to think how many people could have been exposed and wouldn’t know about it until decades later.”

Call for Margaret’s former colleagues to come forward

Meanwhile, Roger Maddocks, who is representing Mrs Curry as a specialist asbestos-related disease lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, stated: “Those who worked alongside Margaret may have important information on the presence of asbestos at Darlington College as well as details of safety measures, if any, taken to protect staff from exposure to it.

“We hope former colleagues, students and others familiar with Darlington College will come forward with this crucial information so we can get justice for Margaret. We would also like to hear from any of the workmen involved in removing the asbestos from the ceilings at the college.”

Are you concerned about the potential presence of asbestos at your own organisation’s premises? If so, contact the Trident Asbestos Solutions team today about the asbestos air testing and related services that could be instrumental in safely detecting and managing such dangerous fibres.

Swindon toilet block regeneration put at risk by ‘asbestos’ find

Plans to refurbish toilets hit by drugs could be imperilled by the apparent discovery of asbestos in the building by staff of Swindon Borough Council.

It may mean the Mechanics Institution Trust loses a £12,000 grant that it secured from the Groundwork charity to overhaul the historic Swindon park’s toilets where 200 discarded needles were discovered in a single day last summer.

The group had proposed to transform the red brick building in Faringdon Road Park into a base for its volunteer gardeners, who work on the railway village park.

As things stand, however, the trust will lose the grant at the end of January.

Frustration over “lack of communication and progress”

Despite officers from Swindon Borough Council – which owns the toilet block – having seemingly found asbestos in the building, the Swindon Advertiser reported suggestions from “sources close to the discussions” who believed this could be an “excuse” that “many people don’t believe”.

Chris Watts, chairman of South Swindon Parish Council, warned that the development could end plans to refurbish the building.

He said to a meeting of the parish’s leisure and amenities committee this month: “The latest we have back from the council is that the building has excessive asbestos in it. This is not something we can verify. Their suggestion is that the costs of actually resolving the asbestos problem in the building would be far greater than the actual amount of money they have.”

The parish hopes to be put in charge of the park in the future.

Daniel Rose, director of the Mechanics Institution Trust, commented: “We continue to be very frustrated by the lack of communication and progress on this issue with the council. We want to see that building regenerated.”

He added that despite the trust having been given “extension after extension” to its Groundwork grant, it was presently set to lose that funding by the end of the month.

A Swindon Borough Council spokesman said: “We are liaising with the parish council over the future of the toilet block in order to reach a resolution that suits all parties.”

A reminder of the importance of asbestos removal contractors

The cache of 200 drug needles was discovered around the building last July by shopkeeper Paul White, who told the newspaper that he had seen someone injecting themselves in the stomach “out in the open”, as well as “groups of people going into the toilets and doing who knows what, it beggars belief.”

The borough council responded by confirming its officers had begun daily inspections of the park.

The news of the fresh troubles for the toilet block’s proposed refurbishment is another reminder of the crucial role that asbestos removal contractors play in providing vital peace of mind to organisations and protecting public health.

When you require the services of a trustworthy and leading national asbestos consultancy, call Trident Asbestos Solutions on 03333 441555 to request your competitive quotation.

Christmas decorations at school ‘could have heightened asbestos risk’

As leading nationwide specialists in asbestos consultancy, here at Trident Asbestos Solutions, we know full well how crucial it is to educate as many people as possible on the risks that asbestos can pose, particularly when one comes into direct contact with it.

It therefore doesn’t surprise us that the organisation in the UK representing education worker unions warned its members that they could be putting themselves and children in danger if they put up Christmas decorations in the classroom, given how asbestos can be disturbed as a result.

Almost 90% of British schools still contain asbestos

 In issuing its directive through the Department for Education, the Joint Union Asbestos Committee (JUAC) warned school staff across the country that nearly nine in 10 schools still harboured some of the toxic material.

JUAC said that when staples and pins are put into walls and ceilings as part of the process of decorating classrooms for the festive season, microscopic asbestos fibres can be released. This, in turn, may have serious health implications for those nearby.

The Department for Education stated: “This activity should not be taking place in schools where asbestos is known to be present.”

JUAC urged school staff to determine whether asbestos was present in their building, as well as exactly where it was located. It added that those working in schools who suspected that asbestos was, indeed present should also avoid piercing the walls and ceilings of classrooms, corridors or halls with staples or pins to hang Christmas decorations.

School employees were therefore told to seek out alternative methods for the display of holiday decorations and other artwork.

The JUAC directive continued: “Any school built before 2000 is likely to contain asbestos. Nearly 90% of schools still contain asbestos and children are known to be most vulnerable because of the long latency of asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma.”

Ask Trident if you are not sure how to deal with asbestos on your premises.

 With Regulation 10 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations (2012) making clear that every employer must ensure the provision of sufficient information, instruction and training to employees and contractors who are liable to come into contact with this notorious substance as part of their normal work, now may be the time to get in touch with our experts.

We can give your team the benefit of asbestos awareness  that will help to ensure the continued safety of everyone in your employ, so that future tragic illnesses can be avoided. Simply call us now, on 03333 441555, to find out more.

Asbestos exposed at disused BHS building in Hull

The building formerly housing one of Hull’s most instantly recognisable department stores – a branch of the now-defunct BHS – has had a hoarding placed around it due to the exposure of asbestos inside, according to the city council.

A statement by the local authority confirmed that “some of the cladding has started to come away and asbestos is being exposed”, adding that the hoarding was erected for “public safety” reasons.

One of the city’s highest-profile sites

The shop building is one of the most prominent structures in Hull city centre, and is known for its large Three Ships mosaic by artist Alan Boyson. The work was commissioned in 1963 by the building’s then-owner, The Co-op, and it is planned to be retained as part of a redevelopment of the site.

The canopy outside the building has recently served as a shelter for some of the city’s homeless population. However, white boards have now been put in place to fence it off, while the council is working with Emmaus, a charity for the homeless, to provide the rough sleepers with support and accommodation.

A report issued by the council only last month revealed the discovery of suspected raw asbestos fibres in the BHS building and the former Co-op store, both on Jameson Street.

Major redevelopment plans

A Hull City Council spokesperson stated: “In agreement with the owners of the BHS building, the council has placed hoarding around the site to ensure public safety.

“The council is currently in the process of purchasing this site, which will be the next key redevelopment area of the city and will be part of the new Albion Square.

“The development envisaged will enhance both the leisure and high quality retail offer in the new city centre, as well as providing more city centre residential property, contributing to the vitality of the centre and enhancing the demand necessary to boost and sustain the city centre evening economy.”

Albion Square is the name of the proposed mixed retail, leisure and housing development that the council intends to develop on the site around the Three Ships mural, with demolition of the rest of the former BHS building set to take place in June.

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Norfolk man’s life ‘could be cut short’ by asbestos

It seems that throughout the UK, terrible stories are continuing to be told about the dreadful impact that asbestos is still having on people’s lives, often many decades after the sufferer’s initial exposure to the notoriously lethal substance.

One such story that saddened us recently was that of former factory inspector Paul Retallick, as reported by Norfolk newspaper, the Diss Mercury.

A tragic story of what could have been

Mr Retallick’s story can be traced back to the moment in 1969 when, then 18 years old and on the verge of starting a family, he accepted a job at Cape that he thought represented just the start of a bright future.

Instead, it was a role that put the now-Attleborough resident in close contact with highly dangerous asbestos fibres, which have been greatly detrimental to his health in later life – and could yet kill him.

Such an awful possibility is hardly likely to have crossed Paul’s mind when he first started work with the company, which – although it often required him to work a 54-hour week – paid even youngsters like him £24 a week, far beyond what a teenager could expect to earn at any other firm.

Such seemingly generous pay enabled Paul and his wife Shirley to save for a deposit for a house that they would have otherwise been unable to afford.

However, all of this was at an appalling cost that would not become apparent until many years later.

Conditions that turned dark blue overalls “stone white”

 From the start of his time with Cape until 1971, Paul was responsible for the inspection and cutting up of boards made from asbestos materials, which subjected him to a high level of exposure to the fibres that have caused the deaths of so many down the years.

He has said that on some days, the dust was so thick that his dark blue overalls “would change colour to medium blue within 10 minutes… by the end of the shift, they were stone white.”


Although Paul and his colleagues were offered masks, he has said they were so uncomfortable and suffocating that they were impossible to wear.

Furthermore, he said that he and his co-workers were never informed of the risks of asbestos, including that breathing in asbestos on a daily basis could put them at risk in decades to come of fatal lung diseases such as mesothelioma.

The safe removal of asbestos remains of critical importance

 Paul’s own present condition – diffuse pleural thickening – could yet ultimately kill him if it does develop into mesothelioma. In the meantime, it has greatly compromised his health and life, having halved his lung capacity.

It is another chilling warning of the dangers of this dreadful substance, which – although now banned – remains present in many older buildings and may still pose a risk to health if disturbed.

If you have any doubts about the safety of your own premises due to the potential presence of asbestos fibres, don’t hesitate to contact the team here at Trident Asbestos Solutions, who will be able to oversee the safest and most professional removal of asbestos and advice from your contaminated site.

Just two days’ asbestos exposure ‘enough to kill South Staffordshire man’

In some of the stories that our asbestos removal contractors see in the news detailing tragic victims of exposure to the famously lethal substance, there is shocking information about just how short a time period the sufferer spent in contact with the fibres that ultimately killed them.

Such has been the case with another article we have seen in the news lately – that concerning Michael Davies, a resident of the South Staffordshire village of Pattingham, who died on 18th September this year.

A verdict of industrial disease

As reported by the Express & Star, Michael Davies had assisted with the removal of roofing material containing the substance in 1978. According to an inquest, the cause of the 60-year-old former social care manager’s death was mesothelioma, the cancer that is heavily associated with asbestos exposure.

Officer Andrew Heathcote read out a statement from Mr Davies’ family at Cannock Coroners Court.

He said: “After graduating in 1978 in Swansea, Mr Davies had no permanent employment and it appears he survived by doing odd jobs. He remembered his friend Tony returning from the Job Centre to say there was a job clearing asbestos in a factory in Swansea.

“He thought the opportunity was too good to turn down and signed up. But after just two days dismantling roofs, he gave it up.”

Mr Davies reported this asbestos exposure in July this year. However, as Mr Heathcote outlined: “The initial exposure happens decades before symptoms start to show.”

“A relatively young age to die”

Mr Andrew Haigh, South Staffordshire Coroner, said: “I have been told Michael was only 60 when he died, which is a relatively young age to die. He was an active man, had a responsible job in social services and was part of the community in Pattingham.”

The coroner added that Mr Davies had spent “a couple of days” removing asbestos in a job following his graduation in Swansea in the late 1970s.

“There is no doubt that Mr Davies died as a result of mesothelioma and no doubt that this was a result from exposure to asbestos.”

He said that while there was less certainty about when the exposure occurred, Mr Davies’ time working in Swansea was the only instance of contact with asbestos of which he had been told.

“Therefore, on the balance of probabilities, I conclude Mr Davies died of industrial disease.”

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Widow seeks answers after asbestos-related death of ex-bingo hall manager husband

While it is well-known that those who worked in the construction sector many decades ago can be at risk of developing asbestos-related disease as a result of having come into contact with the lethal substance during their working lives, not all cases are this typical. This has been shown by one sad story recently published by the Newcastle-based Evening Chronicle newspaper.

Overseeing renovations may have exposed tragic husband to asbestos

Bob Elliot – originally from Kimblesworth in County Durham – was a senior manager for leading bingo hall operator Rank, which was responsible for hundreds of bingo halls across the country in the 1970s and ‘80s. Only after his death last year was it found that he had been suffering from mesothelioma, a cancer of the lung lining that is strongly associated with asbestos exposure.

It is thought that he would have breathed in the potentially fatal substance while overseeing renovations of Rank premises around his native North East of England, but his family is now appealing for more information on exactly where this may have occurred.

While Bob spent time around the UK and the United States, he was also active in his home region for many years. He was based in Sunderland, but helped to oversee the transformation of old cinemas into bingo halls in such towns and cities as Gateshead and Leeds.

“We always said no, as that wasn’t his line of work”

Bob, a prostate cancer survivor, sadly died in March last year, aged 79. His wife Elizabeth, to whom he was married for 50 years, said the couple had no idea he could have been exposed to asbestos.

She commented: “When Bob had prostate cancer in 1999, he made such a great recovery, he had more energy than me. But then in late 2015, we could tell something wasn’t right – we worried that the prostate cancer had come back, but really we knew it was something different as the symptoms were different.

“The doctors kept asking about whether Bob could have come into contact with asbestos, but we always said no, as that wasn’t his line of work. Just before he died, one doctor said to us it could be mesothelioma, but as Bob didn’t work with asbestos, we just didn’t think it was possible. Only once the post-mortem confirmed it did we actually believe it, but of course it was a huge shock.”

She appealed for her husband’s ex-colleagues or anyone involved in the conversion of the bingo halls to provide information that “would help us go some way to finding out why we lost Bob in the manner we did.”

Trust us for asbestos surveys in Newcastle

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Contact our team today for a competitive quotation, by calling 03333 441555.

Oxford library asbestos ‘could have caused professor’s death’

Among the many deaths from mesothelioma – the lethal cancer usually caused by the breathing in of asbestos fibres – to have been reported in the news recently is that of a former professor at Oxford University, who passed away earlier this year, aged 93.

Dennis Shaw was a distinguished figure in the recent history of the university, having once held the position of ‘Keeper of the Books’ at the Bodleian Library, where an inquest has heard he may have come into contact with the notorious now-outlawed substance.

Efforts underway to trace academic’s possible asbestos exposure

 As reported by the Oxford Mail, Dr Shaw wrote a personal statement to his family during his dying days, outlining his former workplaces where he could have encountered the asbestos fibres that led to the development of his cancer.


A coroner heard that he was working at the Bodleian Library during the 1970s as major refurbishment and underground construction work took place, and that this may have been the source of the asbestos exposure that ultimately caused his death.

Dr Shaw made specific reference in his personal statement to the library, where he was employed as Keeper of Scientific Books from 1976 to 1991. Prior to taking on the position, he had made regular use of the library as a physics and science academic at the university’s Keble College. He served the college for more than 30 years in all.

He said that nearly every day during work to extend the Bodleian Library in the early 1970s, he was present for an hour and a half to supervise construction. In early December 2016, he was diagnosed with the cancer of the lung lining known as mesothelioma, and was told it was caused by hazards in his workplace.

A much-missed father

 Rosamund Rhodes-Kemp, assistant coroner for Oxford, commented: “Dr Shaw sadly died on July 20 this year of mesothelioma, which possibly had work-related causes. He died suddenly in the night.

“Mesothelioma is a disease that comes about due to someone’s exposure to asbestos. He was not aware of any exposure, but it is difficult to know when you’re clearing large amounts of dust during any building project.

“I would suggest the conclusion here is one of industrial disease.”

Dr Shaw’s 58-year-old daughter, Deborah, added after the inquest: “His family is very proud of him. We miss him very much. The last 18 months of his life were marred by such a horrible disease.”

A Bodleian Library spokesman declined to comment on the suggestion that asbestos fibres may have been present during the construction of the library extension, but described Dr Shaw as “a valued colleague and… a much-missed member of staff.”

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We can provide your business with a wealth of asbestos-related services here at Trident Asbestos Solutions, enabling you to better identify, manage and remove this potentially lethal and now banned construction material.

Draw upon our expertise in such areas as asbestos surveys, air monitoring and asbestos removal project management by calling us now, on 03333 441 555, for a competitive quotation.

A tragic “sixth victim” of the attack

Damages agreed over death of police officer due to Brighton bombing asbestos

Two police forces have reached a settlement to pay compensation to the family of an officer who died as a result of contact with asbestos in the aftermath of the IRA’s bombing of the Grand Hotel in Brighton during the 1984 Conservative Party conference.

The BBC said it had received confirmation from Sussex Police that it had settled a claim involving a former Met Police officer in February. The claim amount was split between the London and Sussex forces, with a police spokesman stating that the exact figure had not been disclosed.

A tragic “sixth victim” of the attack

Jonathan Woods worked as a forensic officer, and was one of the first on the scene of the attack. His death was reported in December 2015, and last year, Sussex Police warned emergency workers who were present at the site that they could have been exposed to lethal asbestos fibres.

Five people died and 34 were injured in the blast aimed at then-Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her cabinet in October 1984, when party members were staying at the hotel. Following the alert from Sussex Police, lawyers for Mr Woods said he had been sifting through dust and rubble by hand at the site for 14 days, searching for evidence.

They described him as the attack’s “sixth victim”, adding that 14 other Met officers and 15 Sussex officers accompanied him, and would have therefore also theoretically come into contact with the now-banned and potentially fatal material.

The lawyers added, in a statement issued in June last year: “Hopefully the ambulance service crews and fire services who attended above ground would not have been exposed to the same extent.”

Although Sussex Police has been in contact with and sent letters to 154 people, it has said it has received no further legal claims. There has been no comment on the settlement from Mr Woods’ family and his legal representatives.

Another sad reminder of the continuing danger of asbestos

Although this case may relate to much more unusual circumstances than have been seen in many other recent high-profile asbestos cases, it is nonetheless another reminder of the deaths and devastation that continue to occur to families as a result of exposure to the fibres often dating back many decades.

It should also alert organisations and individuals alike of the importance of doing everything possible to lessen any asbestos risk that could be posed to users of their buildings today. If you are one of them, don’t hesitate to contact the Trident Asbestos Solutions team now to learn more about our industry-leading asbestos air testing and related services.





The steady decline of a great historic pier

Fears that asbestos from Colwyn Bay pier could contaminate beach

Concerns have been voiced that the continued deterioration of the derelict Grade II-listed Colwyn Bay pier could lead to the beach becoming contaminated with asbestos, due to sheeting made from the lethal substance having been used in the construction of the main pavilion in the 1930s.

A report by Conwy County Borough Council said that the pier being hit by bad weather could cause the sheeting to break up, and that the structure should be dismantled as soon as possible. While the council owns the pier and approved plans to dismantle it in July, work cannot start until the go-ahead has also been given by the Welsh Government.

The steady decline of a great historic pier

The council is also unable to act on its plans until it has secured a marine licence from environmental body Natural Resources Wales (NRW), and fears that adverse weather may begin to hit the pier before this permission has been obtained.

The pier was first opened in 1900, but started to decline from the late 1980s and eventually closed in 2008. The structure began to collapse in February, with council engineers stating that the collapse of the sea end had weakened other sections. Parts of the pier have already been demolished as a safety measure.

Council warns of “rapidly deteriorating structure” 

According to an internal council report, released to BBC Wales as a result of a Freedom of Information request, “the strong impression remains of a rapidly deteriorating structure. The external walls of the pavilion were in a very poor condition when the deck was accessed some three to four years ago. It is surprising that they have not yet failed under wind load.

“If the walls fail, then a dominant opening would form, significantly increasing the wind pressure within the pavilion, leading to a high risk of the asbestos cement sheets being lost from the structure.”

With the asbestos sheeting having been known since its identification in a 2012 survey of the pier, the report added that the council had been considering how to clean the beach in the event of the pavilion’s collapse.

The Welsh Government said that it was assessing an application to dismantle the pier, while NRW confirmed it had received a marine licence application in relation to Colwyn Bay pier that was currently out to consultation. The body added that it “would consider any request to fast track a permit on a case by case basis.”

We are respected specialists in asbestos removal project management

Here at Trident Asbestos Solutions, we will certainly await with interest any further news on the fate of Colwyn Bay pier and what measures are taken to ensure the safe removal of any asbestos posing a danger to human health.

In the meantime, if your own organisation is in need of the services of acclaimed experts in the project management of asbestos removals, please contact the Trident Asbestos Solutions team on 03333 441 555 for a competitive quote.







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