A restured teacher who spent 35 years in Lancashire primary schools is appealing to her former colleagues for help in a legal battle with Lancashire County Council after she was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the lungs caused by exposure to asbestos.
Penny Devaney was diagnosed with disease in July 2013, after going to her GP when she began to suffer with shortness of breath and wheezing.
The 64-year-old mother-of-two and grandmother-of-four has now instructed expert asbestos-related disease lawyers at Irwin Mitchell’s Leeds office to help investigate when and where she was exposed to asbestos during her teaching career. She is suing her former employers for failing to prevent her exposure to the hazardous substance
Mrs Devaney, who moved from Preston to Cheshire with her husband James after her diagnosis, worked at a number of schools around Lancashire between 1978 and 2004.
From 1979/80 she spent a number of months at St Maria Goretti Catholic Primary School in Ribbleton, before moving on to the former St Benedict’s RC Primary, Walton-le-Dale, where she stayed until the school merged with St Mary’s RC Primary in, Bamber Bridge. She then moved to Leyland St Mary’s RC Primary where Mrs Devaney remained until 2004.
After leaving full-time teaching she carried on working as a supply teacher until her retirement in 2012.
She claimed that while working for the authority she was exposed to “dirty and dusty environments as construction was taking place at the schools.”
The teacher regularly visited school buildings where construction and refurbishment work was going on and said she wasn’t provided with any protective equipment to limit her exposure to asbestos.
She said: “I was given no warnings, training or information about the risks and dangers of potential asbestos exposure and had I known I would never have visited the schools while construction work was going on.”
A spokesman for Lancashire County Council said: “We are aware of Mrs Devaney’s claim, but are unable to comment further as legal proceedings are still ongoing.”