The family of a St Helens teacher who died of cancer just months after marrying the man of her dreams believe she was exposed to asbestos while at school.
Michele Reed, who met husband Manu on her 60th birthday, was described as being “in the prime of her life and the life and soul of any party”.
She taught French at Up Holland High School for 18 years between 1982 and 2000 where her pupils included Verve frontman Richard Ashcroft.
The popular mum-of-two moved to France shortly after being made redundant from her job and met Manu, who her family describe as “the man of her dreams”.
Speaking about her loss, daughter Bethany Gibbins said: “Mum was a French teacher - it was all she loved to do. Growing up, she always used to take me on school trips with the students to Paris or skiing in France.
“All of her students loved her.
“She was made redundant and the first thing she did was move to France. She met Manu on her 60th birthday and he really was the man of her dreams. It was about six months before she was diagnosed that he proposed. They got married and it was so bittersweet but we’re so glad she met him.”
It was while living in a caravan on a holiday park in France that Michele became ill and was diagnosed with mesothelioma. It is usually linked to asbestos exposure.
Bethany added: “Everyone adored my mum - it says that on her gravestone. She was in her sixties but was in the prime of her life, she was such a positive person.
“We didn’t even know how ill she was because she was so positive. I spoke to her the day before she died – she had sent somebody to go and get food shopping for her for the next two weeks. I didn’t get to say goodbye to her and it breaks my heart.”
Her family are now searching for answers after Michelle’s death, aged 63, in February. They want to speak to anyone who worked with her over the years at places where asbestos may have been present, in particular Up Holland High School.
After she was diagnosed, Michele started to think about possible asbestos exposure and remembers teaching in dusty classrooms.
She also recalls work being done to the school building during her time there.
Lawyers at Slater and Gordon, who Michele instructed before her death, are now appealing for people who worked with her at Up Holland school or at other places where asbestos was present.
Now banned, asbestos was widely used in buildings until the 1980s.
Louise Larkin, an industrial disease specialist at the law firm, said: “Michele lived for her work. She remembers classrooms being dusty but she was never advised to take any precautions against the toxic substance.”
Anyone who believes they can help should contact Louise on 0151 353 9933 or email Louise.Larkin@slatergordon.co.uk
Laura Sales, director of Legal and Democratic Services for Lancashire County Council, said: “Any claims received are considered and investigated under appropriate procedures. It would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”