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Gran was exposed to asbestos in Maidstone Woolworth's, family say

A family is looking to find old Woolworths workers amid fears they were exposed to asbestos.

Ros Farley worked at Woolworths in Week Street, Maidstone, for more than 20 years, and was diagnosed with mesothelioma in June, two months before her 80th birthday.

Ros Farley (Right) died after battling lung cancer she feared was caused by asbestos exposure in Woolworths. Picture: Andy Jones
Ros Farley (Right) died after battling lung cancer she feared was caused by asbestos exposure in Woolworths. Picture: Andy Jones

Last month she passed away, but her family and solicitors are hoping former colleagues will have crucial information in their legal case.

Ros's daughter, Lynn Watson, who became her mother's main carer when she fell ill, said: "Mum was very well loved and we had a huge party for her 80th. The room was packed with friends and family. But the event was tinged with sadness, because we knew she was suffering from an incurable condition.

"Before she died she was in a lot of pain, despite being on strong medication, and although she put on a brave face, I knew she struggled to cope with her symptoms. The disease had a devastating impact on all of us."

Mrs Farley left school in 1954 and began working at Woolworth's.

She spent four years at the High Street giant before moving to the old David Greig grocery store on Week Street.

Ros Farley (standing second on the left) with old Woolworths colleauges, her family hope they may be able to help
Ros Farley (standing second on the left) with old Woolworths colleauges, her family hope they may be able to help

In 1963 she took a break from work to care for her children, but returned to Woolie's in 1973 to support her family.

She would spend the following years on the shop floor and in the kitchen and canteen area.

Mrs Farley, who had five grandchildren, suspected refurbishment work may have released asbestos dust into the atmosphere while she was working at the now closed chain.

In 1999 the Terminus Road, Barming, resident retired but sadly lost her husband Dennis the same year. She would return to Woolworths for seasonal work over the next few years.

Mrs Watson said: "When your parents get older you begin to think about them dying, but I never expected it to be this way, being an industrial illness. It's not like she ever smoked."

Mrs Farley's funeral will take place on December 2, her family are inviting any old friends to attend.

It will be held at 11am in St James the Great East Malling, The King and Queen pub over the road will hold a wake.

Mesothelioma is an aggressive form of lung cancer heavily linked to asbestos exposure.

Mrs Farley are her family's solicitors Field Fisher are hoping other Week Street Woolworth's colleagues can come forward if they too have fallen ill.

The last Woolworths stores closed in January 2009.

If anyone has information that might help Ros' claim, please contact Sarah Wolf at sarah.wolf@fieldfisher.com or phone 0207 861 6756.

Read more: All the latest news in Maidstone.


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