A MAN with terminal cancer is suing Hampshire County Council after claiming he was exposed to asbestos at a Southampton college.

John Slade from Romsey believes he came into contact with the toxic fibres when he used to teach pottery in a makeshift hut at Richard Taunton College, Hill Lane.

The 70-year-old retired history teacher was diagnosed with cancer after being rushed to hospital with a collapsed lung. He also suffered from extreme tiredness which doctors have linked to the cancer.

The steel structure huts John taught in were initially erected on Southampton Common as army barracks in preparation for the D-Day landings during the Second World War. They were later used as classrooms at the College’s Highfield Road site.

John said: "When I was diagnosed I was quite devastated. This is something that happened that wasn’t in my control and it seems most unfair.

"I can’t walk half a mile now without getting breathless. What was occasional headaches is now almost continuous. I even had to miss my own grandson’s wedding which I was meant to officiate at last summer.

"It’s just terribly unfair that this has happened and I feel incredibly unlucky."

The father-of-one enjoyed making objects and took up an evening class for teachers, which he used to share his new pottery skills with pupils.

John also claims he would use asbestos gloves to remove hot items from the pottery kiln several times a week.

He added: "By the time I started teaching, the huts would have been used at the college since the 1940s. They were only meant to have a ten-year shelf life so you can just imagine what state they were in.

"They were really dilapidated, with rain coming in, and we were always covered in dust. We simply had no idea that we were endangering our lives.

"I actually feel depressed quite a lot of the time but I try and get lost in what I’m doing and stay engaged in things and people. I’ve taken up woodwork and try to get to the gym regularly but I’m not in the same way I was a few years ago."

Ceri Clark, an industrial disease lawyer from Slater and Gordon who is representing John, added: "People wrongly assume that it is only builders and other tradesmen who are affected by this horrible disease but asbestos was widely used in many school buildings across the country for years, meaning countless staff and students could have been put at risk.

"That’s why we are appealing for anyone who worked with him or was taught by him in places where there could have been asbestos present to get in touch and tell us what they know."

A spokesperson for Hampshire County Council said: "While we can confirm that the County Council is in receipt of a claim, we are unable to comment while this is being investigated."