The widow of a UK man who died from the asbestos related cancer mesothelioma said she had never even heard of the disease until her husband contracted it, and stated that it is vital that awareness of the disease and the dangers of asbestos is increased.

Seventy eight year old John Sarjeant died last August after contracting the cancer, which is linked to exposure to airborne asbestos dust and fibers. He was a former worker for the defunct Woolworths High Street chain, and his widow is pursuing legal action against the chain, which went bust last year.

His widow stated: “He worked for Woolworths for most of his life really. He started when he was 16 and he was working in the stock room. There was quite a lot of asbestos in things like covers for ironing boards and he would carry them up to stock them on the counters. As a teenager, Les was unaware of the risk at the time – although he made the connection, which has been confirmed by a former colleague, when he became ill.”

She also said: “I had never heard of mesothelioma until my husband died and more people should be made aware of the dangers.” A lawyer dealing with her case added: “Our fear is that other people who did the same work as Les Sarjeant in other branches, or worked in Woolworths stores around the country when they were refurbished, may also have been exposed to this terrible disease.”

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