A North East councillor is appealing for former work colleagues to come forward after she was diagnosed with the deadly cancer mesothelioma.

Maureen Chaplin, 64, from Chopwell is a Gateshead Councillor for the Chopwell and Rowlands Gill constituency.

She was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the lung, in February 2007.

Mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos and can take decades before the symptoms occur.

There is no cure for the disease and many patients live just a few months after they are diagnosed.

Maureen, who has two daughters and three grandchildren, believes she was exposed to asbestos while working as a nursing assistant for Prudhoe Hospital from 1971 to 1979. At the time the hospital was a residential home for mentally handicapped patients.

Maureen recalls she was exposed to asbestos present in the buildings she worked in at the hospital premises.

Claim for Mesothelioma Compensation

She is now pursuing a claim for compensation from her former employers.

Maureen said: “When I was told I had mesothelioma I had never heard of the disease. I had never even considered the fact that I had been exposed to asbestos until then. To then be informed that I had developed an incurable cancer was extremely upsetting for me and my family.

“Prior to February 2007 I was extremely fit and active and didn’t even feel ill until the breathlessness started.

“I have always had a lot of energy and could always step up another gear if I needed to. Now I am unable to do this anymore and find myself extremely restricted by my condition.”

Maureen has undergone chemotherapy with life extending drug Alimta and is currently undertaking her council duties.

Workmen employed at Prudhoe hospital should contact Thompsons Solicitors

Maureen’s lawyers, Thompsons Solicitors, are keen to speak to anyone who worked with Maureen at the Prudhoe hospital between 1971 and 1979. They are also interested in speaking to any workmen involved in renovation work at the hospital at any time during or since the 1970s, or any of the contractors who stripped out asbestos from the site in later years.

Client representative at Thompsons Solicitors, Tony Hood, said: “Many people mistakenly believe mesothelioma is a disease which only affects elderly men who previously worked in heavy industry or construction.

“However we are now seeing an increasing number of tragic cases where asbestos has devastated the lives of women, like Mrs Chaplin.

“It is important we build up an accurate picture of Mrs Chaplin’s time at Prudhoe Hospital, and the work that was carried out there over the years.

“We need local people to contact us who have worked at the hospital to help us advise Mrs Chaplin and her family. If anyone has any details which they think may assist please get in touch with us.”

Anyone with any information should contact Tony Hood at Thompsons Solicitors on 0191 269 0488.