The family of a former High Wycombe school caretaker, who died just seven weeks after being diagnosed with cancer, are appealing to her former colleagues for information on any asbestos presence at the school.

Jean Wordsworth was 72 when she died of mesothelioma, a cancer linked to asbestos exposure that affects the lining of the lungs.

The grandmother-of-four was a caretaker at Green Street School in High Wycombe between 1978 and the late 1980s. Her cleaning responsibilities included sweeping the boiler house and dusting off the pipes, which her family believe were lagged with asbestos.

The grandmother-of-four was caretaker at Green Street School in High Wycombe between 1978 and the late 1980s.

“School boiler houses were very dusty environments and when sweeping it up you could see it in the air around you,” said her husband, David, also a former school caretaker. “I recall my wife telling me that the old boiler that was in the premises where she worked was changed. She told me she observed the workmen ripping out the old boiler and pipework to replace them, and that it was an absolute mess while they did this.”

Mrs Wordsworth developed a cough, chest pain and began losing weight during Christmas 2016. Her GP referred her to hospital for further tests and in August 2017, having felt increasingly weak, she was diagnosed with lung cancer.

She died on 7 October that year and a post-mortem revealed she had mesothelioma.

“It was absolutely awful to see her deteriorate so quickly,” Mr Wordsworth said. “She was in and out of the hospital, and I was caring for her all the time when she was at home. It all happened so quickly. I am absolutely lost without my wife. We had been happily married for many years and I expected to spend many more happy years with her.”

"Jean spent years working hard to ensure the school was a clean and safe space for pupils and teachers, and it’s incredibly unfair that in doing so she may have been unknowingly been exposed to such a dangerous substance. We hope that we will be able to provide her family with the answers they are desperately seeking."

Paul Corrin, Solicitor and asbestos specialist

Mrs Wordsworth’s family have instructed asbestos disease law specialists Thompsons Solicitors to investigate a compensation claim and are appealing for anyone to come forward if they have information about working conditions at the school, or know of any asbestos present there.

Paul Corrin, of Thompsons Solicitors, who is representing Jean’s family, said: “Mesothelioma is most commonly associated with professions such as plumbing, electrical work, lagging and manual labour. But we know different. Asbestos is also hiding in plain sight in many public buildings, including schools.

“Jean spent years working hard to ensure the school was a clean and safe space for pupils and teachers, and it’s incredibly unfair that in doing so she may have been unknowingly been exposed to such a dangerous substance. We hope that with help from Jean’s former colleagues, we will be able to provide her family with the answers they are desperately seeking and some sense of justice being done.”

Anyone with further information should contact Paul Corrin at Thompsons Solicitors in confidence on 0113 367 7423, or email paulcorrin@thompsons.law.co.uk