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A woman who claims she was exposed to harmful blue asbestos which caused her to develop breast cancer while a pupil at a Sheffield school is calling for answers.

Monday, 2nd September 2019, 11:42 am
Updated Thursday, 12th September 2019, 18:19 pm

Janine Greatrex, 48, from Worksop, was a pupil at Hinde House Comprehensive School between 1982 and 1986 and is currently terminally ill with breast cancer, which has since spread to her liver.

After realising that a number of her former school friends had also been diagnosed with forms of the disease, Janine launched her own investigation and discovered that blue asbestos was found in the wall claddings at Hinde House in 1977, a find that led to pupils being x-rayed and the school being closed for several weeks.

Since then, Janine said she has spoken to hundreds of people who attended the school throughout the 1970s and 80s, all of whom have been affected by asbestos-related cancer and is trying to examine a possible link between the two.

Hinde House School, Sheffield.

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She said: “I remember being told our lessons were being moved into huts while repair work was taking place on the lower hall and that's where we stayed for about six months. At that age you don't question why you're being moved. I later found out they found blue asbestos in the walls and in the windowsills.

"I know once you leave school you don't keep in touch but I've had past friends who were very fit at school that have died from cancer. More and more people kept mentioning it to me - one of my friends died from cancer just a couple of weeks ago.

"I've got no history of cancer in my family so it just seemed weird to me," Janine added. "I started looking into it, looking on the forums and Facebook groups and set up my own page. I've received well over 300 messages from people who have lost parents, friends or people who have had cancer themselves.

"It's nice to know there are other people out there who are just wanting answers."

Around 15 years ago an inquiry was launched after it came to light that over a dozen former pupils - five of which were in the same class - had been struck down by various forms of the disease.

The inquiry focused on the sufferers' time at Hinde House Comprehensive and examined possible links between the discovery of blue asbestos and the disease but did not reach a conclusion.

At the time of the inquiry health experts said that for such a large number of former pupils from the same school and era to be struck down by the disease is likely to happen by chance only once every 333 years.

Janine said: "I just want the school to own up and take responsibility for the complete devastation they've caused to so many people's lives.

"I would like to take legal action but it's not about the money I just want them to take responsibility for what they've done. I also want to reach out to more people, I want them to know the reason why they've developed these diseases and to know that someone is searching for answers."

The former Hinde House Comprehensive building, in Shiregreen, was demolished to make way for the Hinde House Secondary School in 2005 and is now run by Brigantia Learning Trust.