The family of a school cleaner who died from an asbestos related cancer has received £110,000 in compensation.

The 81-year-old from Surrey died from mesothelioma in June 2008 after being diagnosed with the disease a few months earlier in March.

Mesothelioma is a cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. There is no cure for the disease and sufferers often die within months of diagnosis.

Exposed to asbestos working in a school

The grandmother was exposed to asbestos while working as a school cleaner at Welling Secondary School in Welling, Kent, between 1972 and 1988.

She was responsible for cleaning a building which had asbestos-containing internal partition walls. The asbestos had become disturbed due to damage caused by drawing pins and general wear and tear.

She was never warned of the dangers of asbestos and would clean up dust unaware of the impact it would have on her health in later years.

Mesothelioma caused breathlessness and pain in ribs

She was diagnosed with mesothelioma after developing breathlessness and suffering pain in her ribs.

She died just a few months later leaving behind her husband of 58 years, two children and several grandchildren.

Before she died she said: “My family and I were totally devastated when we were told I had mesothelioma. I had been a really active person for my age. I enjoyed life to the full. Now I rely on my husband to care for me.”

Asbestos building materials were used routinely in the construction of schools

Her daughter, who instructed asbestos claims specialists Thompsons Solicitors to seek advice about compensation on her mother’s behalf said: “It is terrifying to think that my mum was exposed to asbestos while working in a school. You expect classrooms to be a safe haven for children but working there caused mum to suffer a painful illness and death many years later.”

Tim Hayward from Thompsons Solicitors added: “Asbestos building materials were used routinely in the construction of schools, particularly during the 1960s and 1970s and asbestos remains present in many schools today.

“I am pleased we have been able to bring this case to a successful conclusion for our client’s family. The case illustrates that mesothelioma not only affects men who worked in the engineering, manufacturing and construction industry but also has an equally devastating effect on those who contract the disease from exposure to asbestos through working in public buildings.”