A former pupil who believes she was exposed to asbestos at school has been diagnosed with the incurable cancer mesothelioma.
Mum of three Lisa Doughty, 47, believes she breathed in deadly asbestos particles as teenager while in her school’s music room.
Lawyers from Slater and Gordon, who are representing Lisa, have conducted investigations into the structure of Haggerston Girls’ School, in Hackney, East London, and discovered asbestos ceiling tiles were in place while she attended.
Lisa, who was a pupil at the school in the 1980s but now lives in Ashford, Kent, said the desks in the music room were often coated in dust that may have been asbestos particles.
She said: “I spent a lot of time in the music room, having lessons several times a week and rehearsing plays in there. We used to sit on the desks and have to wipe white dust off them.
“There were two heavy doors at the entrance to the music room and these would constantly slam, shaking the room. The school was in pretty bad repair so maybe the dust came down from the ceiling when the door closed.”
Lisa was diagnosed with the cancer when she went to the doctor with a chronic cough. The rare terminal illness is caused by inhaling dust or fibres from asbestos, but can lie dormant in the body for decades before sufferers realise something is wrong.
Lisa wanted to raise awareness of the potential risk at the school and appeal to any former pupils who may have information to come forward.
She said: “If it was the music room at the school that was the source of my cancer then it’s possible that many others have been affected. I wanted to raise awareness of this and to appeal for anyone else who has been affected, pupils or teachers, to get in touch.
“Despite being diagnosed with this I’m really positive. I know the prognosis is not good but I’m determined not to let this beat me as I have too much to lose. I could sit around worrying but my attitude is that I just have to get on with it.”
Edmund Young, an asbestos-related disease specialist at Slater and Gordon, who acts for Lisa, said: “Mesothelioma is traditionally a form of cancer that has affected those working in industrial jobs, but we are seeing more and more people – both teachers and former pupils - coming to us who have breathed in asbestos particles while at school.
“We are investigating whether Lisa became a victim of this terrible disease while at school and we are appealing for anyone else who may have been affected to come forward.”