THE family of a former nurse who died of asbestos-related cancer are appealing for help to establish how she was exposed to the hazardous material.

Sheila Kirsopp, of Shotley Bridge, who worked at the former Durham County Hospital, died of mesothelioma, a terminal form of cancer linked to exposure to asbestos.

Following her death, aged 87, her family instructed expert asbestos-related disease lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate how she contracted her cancer.

Daughter, Lynn Hammal, 54, and sons Drew and Graham Kirsopp aged 59 and 57, are marking the first anniversary of her death by appealing to their mother’s former colleagues for information about working conditions at the hospital.

Helen Jones, the specialist asbestos-related disease lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, who represents the Kirsopp family, said: “While some people may commonly associate asbestos with traditional, heavy industry, its use was widespread in public buildings such as shops, offices, schools and hospitals.

“Sheila’s family remain devastated by her death and have a number of questions about how she was exposed to asbestos.

“As part of our investigations we are looking at whether Sheila may have been exposed during her work as a nurse.

“We would be grateful for information about conditions at Durham County Hospital.”

Mrs Kirsopp began working at the County Hospital as a student nurse, aged 17, in 1948.

She worked there until 1953, after which she had several nursing jobs, before she and late husband, Ted, ran a residential care home in the 1980s.

She began to suffer with symptoms, including lower right rib pain, in March last year.

It worsened and following tests she was suspected of suffering mesothelioma in June, 2019.

She died on November 17 last year after which a diagnosis of mesothelioma was confirmed in a post-mortem.

Mrs Hammal said before her death her mother believed she may have been exposed to asbestos at the County Hospital.

“We know nothing can bring her back, but we feel we need to honour her memory by finding out what caused her illness.

“We would be so grateful for anyone who could help.”

Anyone with information about County Hospital conditions can contact Sophie Miller at Irwin Mitchell, via email to, or by ringing 0191-434 0728.