Teacher with terminal cancer taking council to court over asbestos

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John Slade from Romsey believes he came into contact with the toxic fibres when he used to teach pottery in a makeshift hut at Richard Taunton College.

The 70-year-old retired history teacher was diagnosed with cancer after being rushed to hospital with a collapsed lung. He also suffered from extreme tiredness which doctors have linked to the cancer.

The steel structure huts John taught in were initially erected on Southampton Common as army barracks in preparation for the D-Day landings during the Second World War. They were later used as classrooms at the College’s Highfield Road site.

John said: “When I was diagnosed I was quite devastated. This is something that happened that wasn’t in my control.

“I can’t walk half a mile now without getting breathless. What was occasional headaches is now almost continuous. I even had to miss my own grandson’s wedding which I was meant to officiate at last summer.

“It’s just terribly unfair that this has happened and I feel incredibly unlucky.”

The father-of-one enjoyed making objects and took up an evening class for teachers, which he used to share his new pottery skills with pupils.

John also claims he would use asbestos gloves to remove hot items from the pottery kiln several times a week.

He added: “By the time I started teaching, the huts would have been used at the college since the 1940s. They were only meant to have a ten-year shelf life so you can just imagine what state they were in.”

A council spokesperson said the authority was unable to comment due to its investigation.



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