Former Hemel Hempstead college worker’s desperate plea over asbestos exposure

Graham Buckland (far right) pictured with colleagues at Dacorum College in 1983. He believes he may have been exposed the asbestos at the college

A former college worker who was diagnosed with cancer linked to asbestos has joined with lawyers to appeal to his former colleagues for help – as he seeks answers regarding his illness.

Graham Buckland, 77, was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the lung associated with asbestos exposure, in September 2016.

Graham, pictured with his daughter Lorna, is now battling mesothelioma

The pensioner, who now lives in Norfolk, used to work at Dacorum College in Hemel Hempstead as a technician for Hertfordshire County Council between 1982 and 1992.

Following his diagnosis, he instructed specialist asbestos-related disease lawyers Irwin Mitchell to help him discover how he developed the illness and whether more could have been done to protect him.

After reviewing his work history, both Graham and his legal team believe he may have been exposed to the deadly material during his time working at the college.

Graham has recalled asbestos being removed from the fabric of the building while he still worked at the college and he believes his former colleagues will remember the removal work being done.

He said: “The tiles were often removed, replaced and drilled into, during a range of refurbishment work and, as I had not been given any warnings or protection, I would tend to sweep up any dust myself.

“When the asbestos removal works eventually took place, it’s quite likely that I was again exposed to asbestos dust.”

As part of their work, Graham’s legal representatives are now keen to hear from anyone who may have more information regarding the presence of asbestos at the site during that time period.

Martyn Hayward, a solicitor and specialist asbestos-related disease lawyer at Irwin Mitchell who is representing Graham, said: “Our client is understandably devastated by his diagnosis and is keen for answers regarding just how the illness developed and whether more should have been done to protect him from the risks.”

A spokesman for Hertfordshire County Council said that the authority was ‘sorry’ to hear about Mr Buckland’s ill-health, but said that as legal action was under way it would be ‘inappropriate’ to comment further.

But for Graham, who now lives near Wisbech, the main thing he is after is answers. And he hopes old colleagues who still live in the Hemel area may be able to help.

He said: “I’m desperate to know whether more should have been done to protect me and would be hugely grateful if anyone with information can come forward. Any detail no matter how small could make a huge difference.”

Lawyer Mr Hayward added: “While asbestos exposure has, for many years been associated with working in industrial environments, we are being asked for help by a growing number of people who believe they came into contact with the material in public buildings such as schools, colleges and hospitals where the material was used in the construction process.

“Any information regarding the presence of asbestos at this college could prove vital in helping us get Graham the financial support he both requires and deserves.”

If you can help, call Martyn on 0370 1500 100 or email martyn.hayward@irwinmitchell.com.

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