Potter’s death linked to work with asbestos

A FORMER pottery worked died weeks after being diagnosed with asbestos-related cancer.

Valerie Smallman developed mesothelioma after years of exposure to asbestos in pottery factories in Stoke-on-Trent.

An inquest into the 65-year-old’s death held at North Staffordshire Coroner’s Court yesterday heard she died at her home in Broadmine Street, Fenton, on December 14 last year.

Mrs Smallman had worked as a tower, someone who removes the edges from ceramic ware at the biscuit firing stage, in the pottery industry since leaving school at 15.

She worked at a number of factories including Beswick Pottery, Ridgway Potteries, British Anchor, James Kent, Paragon China, Royal Grafton China, John Tams and Duchess China. The mother-of-three retired in 2004, and started experiencing breathlessness in June last year.
In a statement her husband Eddie Smallman said: “She began getting out of breath regularly.

“Walking any distance made her breathless.

“She went to the doctor and after tests was diagnosed with mesothelioma due to her employment in the pottery industry.

“She had to take morphine for the pain.”

The inquest heard Mrs Smallman had been due to go into the Douglas Macmillan Hospice in Blurton on December 14.

Mr Smallman had called out a nurse to help him get his wife ready, but while the nurse was there, in the early hours of December 14, Mrs Smallman began to have difficulty breathing.

Mr Smallman said: “The nurse said she wasn’t breathing very well, and she was going to ring the Douglas Macmillan doctor to come out straight away.

“Then she stopped breathing and the paramedics came out. They confirmed she had died.”

A post-mortem examination revealed the pleural membranes of Mrs Smallman’s lungs were badly affected by mesothelioma.

The cause of death was noted as pleural mesothelioma.

Anthony Curzon, deputy coroner for North Staffordshire, recorded that Mrs Smallman died as a result of an industrial disease. He added: “Mrs Smallman was diagnosed with mesothelioma late in 2009.

“She had worked in the pottery industry for the bulk of her adult life and was exposed to asbestos fibres in many of the places she worked.”