Known here as DT, the woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, received the devastating diagnosis in 2018, with doctors cautioning her that due to the aggressive nature of the illness her health could deteriorate quickly.

In shock, the then 57-year-old was forced to resign from work to undergo life-extending treatment. She also instructed industrial disease law experts at Thompsons Solicitors to lead her case.

While asbestos is most commonly associated with industrial settings including mines, factories and shipyards, the firm’s investigation found that in DT’s case she had been exposed while working as a Junior Clerk at Alfreton Road branch of the Midland Bank (now HSBC, pictured) in the late 1970s and 1980s.

She instructed industrial disease law experts at Thompsons Solicitors to lead her case and bring a legal claim for compensation against HSBC, alleging that more should have been done to protect her health.

The banking giant has since accepted full liability and agreed to a £900,000 payout that reflects her significant loss of earnings, and which will help fund vital life-extending therapies, treatments, and DT’s ongoing care needs.

A highly qualified academic who served in several executive and non-executive roles within the public and private sectors before her devastating diagnosis, she is now speaking of her ordeal in a bid to raise awareness of the risks of asbestos outside of industrial settings.

Speaking of her time at the bank, DT said: “At the time, I had been responsible for carrying out the daily filing in the loft area, using cabinets that had been lined with asbestos fireproof boarding and which had been difficult to open.

“I often had to tug at the drawers, which would result in little puffs of dust filling the air. The pipes I would often sit on to carry out my work were also lagged with asbestos, so when I was diagnosed, I knew straight away where I had been exposed,I just didn’t know at 17-years-old what the consequences would be.

“I think asbestos-related diseases have a reputation of being something unique to people who worked in construction or mining. I sincerely hope my case will make other women think about the conditions they worked under in clerical jobs.”

Nikki Hammonds, a lawyer in the asbestos claims team at national law firm Thompsons Solicitors, who represented DT, said: “Sadly, there are many people like DT who were working in clerical roles in banks and other office environments that were completely unaware of the presence of asbestos, and the potential harm that it can cause.

“In this case, DT’s employer had been responsible for protecting workers from exposure, yet it failed to take any action to provide protective equipment or to remove the dangerous dust.

“DT has been incredibly brave speaking out about her ordeal, and I hope it goes some way to raising awareness of the devastating consequences of asbestos exposure and that there is help available for anyone who develops symptoms linked to mesothelioma in later life.”

DT added: “My diagnosis came as a complete shock. At the time, the doctors told me that it was a very aggressive form of cancer and that while exposure typically takes place many decades before, once the symptoms appear, my health would deteriorate rapidly.

“I was told to prepare myself that I could die in as little as 3-21 months. I resigned from work and underwent every possible treatment to boost my chances of living longer.

“Sadly, it is simply too painful for me to work now. That was a huge part of my life, so it has affected me a lot.

“What has happened to me emphasises the potential risks that women faced while working in the 70s and 80s in office environments that are not usually associated with asbestos exposure. I hope that by speaking out about my experience, I can help spread the message that asbestos-related illnesses don’t just affect men.”

DT said she hopes to make her former colleagues aware of the risks. She said: “I carry terrible guilt about the experience,” she said. “Guilt that so many other women who worked in similar jobs to me did not realise they were being exposed to asbestos every day.

“I made a number of attempts to contact people I used to work with, but it hasn’t been easy. I managed to talk to one lady, but another sent me an awful letter because she thought I was trying to scam her. So, she may have had it, and I could have let her know, and I will always regret that.”

Praising her legal team, DT added: “Thompsons Solicitors were fantastic. I’ve been really grateful for the support I have had, particularly in bringing the claim. Nikki at Thompsons came to see me when I was utterly traumatised. She pulled together the case, took witness statements and was happy to accept my case, which took four-and-a-half years to pursue. Nikki was great throughout.”

Despite her challenges, DT says she still finds positivity in her experience: “What I have learnt from this whole experience is that no one goes to hell and comes back empty-handed. I am in many ways lucky to have got my diagnosis earlier due to the car crash, and that means I have been able to access a range of therapies that have really helped my condition.”

Thompsons Solicitors remain committed to supporting individuals affected by workplace negligence and pursuing justice. If DT’s case sounds similar to something you experienced, please contact Nikki Hammonds:

For more information, please get in touch with Mark Taylor, media relations manager at Thompsons Solicitors: