A FORMER teacher believes the life-threatening cancer she is suffering from may have been caused by exposure to asbestos during a 22-year career at schools in East Lancashire.
Janet Gent, a victim of the lung condition mesothelioma, is now appealing to her former colleagues to come forward as her lawyers prepare a claim for compensation.
Mrs Gent worked for eight years until as a home economics teacher at Walton High in Nelson and is convinced she was exposed to asbestos fibres or dust at the former Oxford Road school.
Her legal representatives, Thompsons Solicitors, understand that neither her, nor her colleagues, were made aware of the potential dangers in their working environment.
Four years ago the Lancashire Telegraph reported that 213 schools in Burnley, Pendle, Hyndburn, Rossendale and Ribble Valley were found to have asbestos in their structures.
But education officials then insisted that the material, which comes in a variety of forms, was not dangerous unless it was disturbed.
Refurbishment programmes at a number of local schools have included work to remove asbestos from walls or other partitions.
Mrs Gent, who still lives in the Nelson area, also worked as a supply teacher at 15 high schools or special schools in East Lancashire, and one in South Yorkshire, from 1983 to 1995.
These include the former Barden, Ivy Bank, Habergham, Gawthorpe and St Theodore’s high schools and a special school in Burnley, Walshaw and Mansfield high schools, and Town House and Hendon Brook special schools in Nelson, Park and Primet High, along with Gibfield special school, all in Colne, Tullyann School in Darwen, and Valley special school in Rossendale.
Joanne Candlish, Thompsons’ asbestos team head, said: “It is vital that we trace Janet Gent’s co-workers to enable a full investigation to be carried out into her history of asbestos exposure “Mrs Gent needs and deserves to see justice done and we are committed to helping her achieve this.”
Potential witnesses are being asked to call Mrs Candlish on 0151 224 1644.