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Another piece in asbestos jigsaw

PUBLISHED: 17:33 18 March 2010 | UPDATED: 14:57 24 August 2010

A MAN who went to the same school as a woman looking for answers about where she got her terminal illness has said he remembers there was asbestos in the building when he was there. Colin Kelleher, who lives in Dollis Hill, went to secondary school with

A MAN who went to the same school as a woman looking for answers about where she got her terminal illness has said he remembers there was asbestos in the building when he was there.

Colin Kelleher, who lives in Dollis Hill, went to secondary school with Sarah Bowman, who spoke to the Times exclusively last week about her search for answers about how she contracted mesothelioma.

Ms Bowman said she believed she may have breathed in asbestos when she was at school at William Gladstone High School, in Neasden, in the late 1970s.

Mr Kelleher said: "I know the place was ridden with asbestos.

"It was a few years after I left that all the students came out of that school and then they decided to basically demolish it."

He said "The reason they demolished it was asbestos in the ceilings.

"Luckily enough I didn't go to school very much. I can vaguely remember them doing works in the school. The bit I remember is they had ladders in the corridors and they had the ceiling tiles down."

On hearing the news, Ms Bowman, pictured, said: "I'm shocked really that someone else actually knows (asbestos was in the school).

"Everywhere I've gone for answers, I've been blocked. Now it seems it was an open secret."

She said: "It's mindblowing. I'm even more determined to find out now. My children are at risk.

"If it takes my last breath, my kids will have a say."

Ms Bowman said she remembered workmen had stacked up tiles which were then damaged by students when she was at school, although she also said she worried asbestos could have been disturbed by a fire at the school in 1978.

Brent Council did not confirm or deny whether there had been asbestos in William Gladstone High School, and pointed out that legislation requiring them to record such information had not been passed until 2002.

But Hank Roberts, a former Brent school teacher, who has campaigned to get the problem of asbestos in schools recognised, he said believed it was 'certain' that a building of the age of William Gladstone High School would have had asbestos in it.

He said: "If it had asbestos in it, it is possible that it could have been disturbed by some event such as a fire."

A council spokesman said it had received one other inquiry relating to asbestos in the school.

He added: "We are saddened to hear that Ms Bowman is ill and offer our sympathy to her and her family.

"There was no requirement to keep records relating to the location of asbestos in buildings until the Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 2002.

"There was no requirement in force during 1979-1984 for the local authority to issue safety guidance relating to asbestos for schools in Brent.

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