Page last updated at 13:01 GMT, Monday, 23 February 2009

Play tells asbestos woman's story

June Hancock
June Hancock died in 1997

A play telling the true story of a woman's fight against a factory that spread asbestos is to make its debut in the community affected.

'Dust' charts the struggle of June Hancock, who suffered mesothelioma after her exposure to asbestos as a child in Armley, Leeds, in the 1930s.

Before her death in 1997, she secured a landmark victory against the owners of the JW Roberts factory.

The play will open in a derelict factory in Armley on 11 July.

Mrs Hancock, who had never worked with asbestos, was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 1994.

Asbestos snowballs

Her exposure came as a result of playing in and around the textile plant as a child.

She also took part in games with other children which included throwing asbestos 'snowballs' and playing hopscotch on pavements that were covered with blue asbestos dust.

JW Roberts in Armley
JW Roberts closed in the 1950s

Having already nursed her sick mother, who died in 1983 from mesothelioma, she decided to seek redress for herself, her mother and other residents.

The JW Roberts plant closed in the 1950s but in 1995 Mrs Hancock was awarded damages of 65,000 from the factory's parent company Turner and Newall, paving the way for others to seek compensation.

West Yorkshire Playhouse, which is staging the play, is looking for performers aged over 16 who would like to be involved in the production.

Auditions will be held at the playhouse on Quarry Hill on 21 and 28 February and at Interplay Theatre on Armley Ridge Road on 7 March.

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