Former St Albans woman’s asbestos exposure appeal

AN APPEAL has been made on behalf of a woman suffering from a rare form of cancer who is believed to have been exposed to asbestos fibres in St Albans.

The National Asbestos Helpline (NAH) has put out the appeal on behalf of Karen Jones – formerly Karen Higginbottom – and is appealing for any information, in confidence, regarding the use of asbestos at Granada Theatres or the Handley Page site in Frogmore between the late 1970s and early 1980s.

In particular the NAH is keen to trace Chris Metcalfe, Janet Kahn and Pat Frazer who worked alongside Karen between 1974 and 1981 at the site.

But they would also welcome information from anyone, including ex-employees, who might recall the refurbishment of Granada Theatres, the use and maintenance of asbestos or noticed unknown dust or flaking substances around pipe work.

It is believed that Karen, 54, who no longer lives in the district, might have been exposed to asbestos fibre during internal office refurbishment work which was carried out on a floor-by-floor basis to convert the existing open-plan arrangement to separate offices.

She is urgently seeking witnesses and information who might be able to corroborate her belief that she was exposed to asbestos there.

Additionally, during her time at college in 1973, she worked at St Albans City Hospital with cleaning duties on long wards which might have been men’s, new mums, children’s or even the special care baby unit.

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She worked throughout all areas of the wards including the kitchens where she would have been involved in washing up and it might have been during her time at the hospital that she was exposed. Witnesses from that period are also being encouraged to come forward with information.

Karen has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer almost always associated with asbestos exposure and most commonly through occupation activities.

The “lag” time between exposure and the development of asbestos-related disease averages between 30 and 40 years which is why it is important that witnesses come forward to support Karen and her investigation.

Subject to confirmation and because it was no fault of her own that she contracted the disease, she would be able to claim from a government fund, set up to help with the care of mesothelioma sufferers.

Anyone with information about Granada Theatres in Park Street, Frogmore, its refurbishment during the 70s and 80s or who knew Karen from her time working at the site should contact Jan Garvey at the NAH helpline on 0800 043 6635 in the first instance.

All calls will be treated in the strictest confidence.