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.

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