Family of former teacher makes appeal amid fears of asbestos poisoning

Charles Harrison (15 October, 2021)

The former teacher only developed symptoms decades after leaving work


The family of a Southwark teacher who passed away from asbestos exposure are making an appeal for her former colleagues.

Elizabeth Murphy, known as Betty, worked in The Sacred Heart RC School, St Veronica’s RC School and Honour Oak Girls’ Grammar School, teaching mainly History, French and English.

Teaching between 1966 and 1972, Betty was working before asbestos was banned in 1999. On August 6 2020, she died from mesothelioma – an incurable type of lung cancer linked to asbestos exposure.

She said to her family that she and her colleagues would put holes in walls and ceilings when hanging displays in the classroom – raising the high likelihood that she was subject to asbestos poisoning.

There is however no suggestion that the current school buildings contain asbestos.

Now, social justice law firm, Hodge Jones & Allen Solicitors, are looking into Betty’s death – and her family are making an appeal to get in touch with her former colleagues, in the hopes of uncovering more information about what happened.

Betty’s family said they  were shocked and saddened that Betty died from mesothelioma, possibly caused by exposure to asbestos in the career she loved so much.

The family’s lawyer, Lorna Webster, highlighted that mesothelioma can develop decades after exposure.

“With many school buildings dating back to times when asbestos use was commonplace, we’re unfortunately seeing mesothelioma cases in a number of people who worked in schools,” she said.”

While mesothelioma is rarely curable, treatment can help to alleviate the symptoms if it is caught early.

The family have asked that anyone who was a colleague of Betty’s, or may know someone who was, to contact Lorna Webster via email at or phone at 07917 236121.


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