Edition 11

On 20 July 1982 the ground-breaking documentary “Alice: A Fight For Life” was broadcast. For the first time the human face of the country’s tragic asbestos legacy was clear for all to see. Alice Jefferson a young wife and mother from Yorkshire spoke candidly about her diagnosis of mesothelioma after only a few months of working with asbestos at Cape in Hebden Bridge when she was a teenager.

Fast forward 40 years and whilst so much has changed, in particular the banning of the importation and use of asbestos in this county, there is still sadly thousands of people every year diagnosed with mesothelioma and asbestos related diseases.

In this edition of Airborne we reflect on Alice’s story, the changes that have been implemented over the last 40 years and ask the important question - what still needs to be done to protect future generations from developing asbestos related illnesses?

One of the major changes since the Alice documentary was first aired is the movement of asbestos support groups up and down the country who have formed and been there to support patients and their families at the worst time in their lives. In this edition of Airborne we highlight HASAG Asbestos Disease Support and the amazing work they have done since their inception in 2005. We are proud to be on the HASAG legal panel and work with the group to support those impacted by asbestos across the south.

In this edition we have also highlighted marked differences when it comes to compensation for those who developed mesothelioma compared to those who developed lung cancer as a result of asbestos exposure, how schemes such as the Turner and Newall Trust following the company’s bankruptcy sadly led to some victims being undercompensated, but also the development of funds of last resort in Guernsey and Jersey following the Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme in England and Wales.

In addition, the specialist lawyers in my team have written about the topics of asbestos in schools, public buildings and homes following the recent Parliamentary Committees advice to the government that a commitment should be made for the safe removal of all asbestos from public buildings in the next 40 years.

We have also chosen to highlight peritoneal mesothelioma and the support available for those who develop the condition. We were delighted to support the recent Mesothelioma UK and HASAG collaboration of the first Peritoneal Mesothelioma Patient and Carer Day which was held in Basingstoke on 22 June 2022.

Planning is in motion by our team for an event which will take place on 29 September 2022 which we hope will bring the entire asbestos community together to pay tribute to Alice Jefferson with the airing of the Alice: A Fight for Life documentary. We hope to reflect on the progress made over the last 40 years in the diagnosis, treatment and support for those with mesothelioma, and to inspire further work on raising awareness of the dangers of asbestos, prevention and removal of the substance from buildings so future generations will not suffer the same plight. We hope to see many of you there at Hebden Bridge to fundraise for asbestos support groups.

Helen Childs, Partner and Head of the Asbestos and Mesothelioma team

Team update

Sarah Wolf

Sarah Wolf joined us from Fieldfisher as a Partner in April 2021, heading up the team in London. Since qualifying as a solicitor in 1993, she has been a committed claimant personal injury specialist, with a particular interest in industrial disease work, and has acted exclusively for sufferers of asbestos-related conditions and their families since 2008. Along with the rest of the team, Sarah enjoys working alongside asbestos support groups, raising awareness and fundraising. Sarah is a qualified yoga teacher, and lives in Brighton with her teenage daughter and rescue dog. 

Laura Wilkinson

Laura Wilkinson joined us in July 2021 from Irwin Mitchell as a Senior Associate in our Southwest team. She has dedicated her career to representing Claimants in asbestos-related disease claims since qualifying as a solicitor in 2010. She has spoken at various events, including a study day for nurses, consultants and coroners, and hosted training sessions for hospice nurses, registrars and consultants. Laura enjoys cycling and running and is currently training for the Bristol Half Marathon in September 2022. She has previously raised funds for Mesothelioma UK and Macmillan Cancer Support by getting involved in various fundraising events, including running the Reading Half Marathon twice and the Bath Half Marathon. Laura has two young children and so can often be found at animal parks, swimming pools and beaches around the area!

Michael Wolstencroft

Michael Wolstencroft joined us from Slater & Gordon in November 2021 as a Senior Associate. Michael is an asbestos specialist and has over 12 years of asbestos litigation experience. Michael is regularly instructed by asbestos sufferers in the north of England and across the country. Michael has pursued compensation for those who worked in industry and for those who were exposed to asbestos in less traditional types of employment. Michael is highly approachable and able to explain complex legal issues in plain English, without jargon. Michael is an APIL accredited personal injury specialist. Outside of work, Michael is a fan of Oldham Athletic, enjoys a real ale in the evening and is a proud pet owner of a Labrador named Rosie and a ragdoll cat named Freddie!

Rachel Hicks

Rachel Hicks joined our London team as an Associate Solicitor in January 2022 coming from Irwin Mitchell. Rachel has been representing clients with asbestos-related diseases for a number of years and is a great addition to our growing team. Rachel enjoys building good working relationships with her clients which is reflected by the number of 5-star Trustpilot reviews she has received. Rachel has enjoyed participating in fundraising events for both HASAG and Mesothelioma UK to include the Great South Run and abseiling from the Spinnaker Tower. Outside of work, Rachel enjoys taking Yoga and Pilates classes and spending her time going on walks and bike rides in the New Forest where she lives.

Nadia Toor

Nadia Toor has been part of our team since March 2021 and spent a year with us during her training contract. We are delighted that Nadia qualified into the team as a Solicitor in March 2022. Congratulations Nadia!

Jemima Ware

Jemima Ware joined our Southwest team as a Solicitor in May 2021 from Irwin Mitchell. Jemima is dedicated to helping clients who have been affected by asbestos related illnesses. Jemima lives in Cardiff with her husband, little girl and miniature Dachshund, Buddy!

Adrienne McGurn

Adrienne McGurn joined our Thames Valley team as a Secretary in November 2021. Adrienne joins the asbestos team after having spent many years working in Personal Injury and Family. In her spare time Adrienne enjoys dance and loves crafts.

Kiwana Edwards

Kiwana Edwards joined our London team in March 2021. Before joining the team, Kiwana was also a legal PA in the Regulatory Department and also has experience as a Legal Secretary in Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence. Kiwana is enjoying her new role in the team and we are delighted to have her on board.