Devon teacher died from asbestos exposure in Buckinghamshire schools

Teacher, 68, died from asbestos exposure after builders removed the deadly fibres from classrooms while she taught lessons during her 30-year career.

Sue Stephens died in June this year after being diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma.

Sue Stephens died in June this year after being diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma.

A former teacher died after being exposed to asbestos in schools, a coroner has ruled.

Sue Stephens, 68, worked as a teacher in Buckinghamshire for 30 years before retiring in 2008 to Crediton, Devon.

The grandmother was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, which can lie dormant for decades, in 2014 and died in June this year.

During the inquest, held at Exeter’s County Hall, the court heard that Sue had written a statement saying she recalled construction work being undertaken at another school and asbestos being removed by builders in the classrooms during lessons.

In the statement, she said: ‘Previously I had been very fit and well. This diagnosis came as an enormous shock to me and my family. My symptoms started around 18 months ago.’

She said at one school she used a staple gun to pin children’s work to the walls.

She said: ‘I would stand on a table to do this and it took around two hours. I did it one afternoon every fortnight and I believe I was exposed to asbestos dust and fibres.


‘I was never told it (the school) contained asbestos or to take extra care.’

Greater Devon coroner Dr Elizabeth Earland concluded that Sue died from industrial disease.

She said: ‘I’m satisfied Mrs Stephens was exposed to asbestos during her time as a teacher in schools in Buckinghamshire which underwent building repairs from the 90s upwards.

‘On the balance of probability, and noting the type of repairs at the time and the materials involved, I believe this led to fatal asbestos exposure.’

Prior to her death, Sue’s daughter, Lucie, launched a petition calling for the government to make it law to begin the removal of asbestos from all schools by 2028.

The petition has more than 9,000 signatures.

A Buckinghamshire County Council spokesman said: ‘We would like to express our sympathy to Sue Stephens’ family on their sad loss.

‘We are, however, unable to make any comment on individual cases.’

Source: Daily Mail Online

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