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Teacher receives £156,000 compensation for losing voice

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A teacher who developed nodules on her vocal chords as a result of having to constantly shout during lessons will receive £156,000 in compensation following an out-of-court settlement of her personal injury and disability discrimination claims.

Mother-of-two Joyce Walters, 50, from Ickenham in Middlesex, taught English to foreign students at nearby Harlington Adult Education Centre in Hillingdon, north-west London from September 2005 to July 2006. The centre is operated by Hillingdon Council and housed at Harlington Community School.

Ms Walters claimed she developed the nodules on her vocal chords because she was given a classroom next to a courtyard used by schoolchildren during playtimes, and says she often had to repeat herself and raise her voice to be heard over the noise and disruption.

Within a month of starting work, she said, she developed a sore throat, which got progressively worse. She claims she repeatedly asked for help from management at the centre but nothing was done.

After the nodules were discovered through exploratory surgery, she underwent months of speech therapy but says she is still unable to speak for more than a short period before her throat becomes sore and her voice hoarse.

"Teaching was my calling. I adored the classroom and miss it so much, but the problems with my voice make it impossible for me to ever go back," Ms Walters said.

"I even have to think twice about day-to-day things, like speaking on the phone to my dad in Scotland, as my voice is not strong enough to maintain a conversation for any length of time."

While Joanne Jefferies, Ms Walters's solicitor, said: "Despite numerous attempts to raise her concerns with her employer, Mrs Walters was ignored and it has resulted in this terrible, life-altering injury for which she is owed a big apology.

"To make matters worse she is still awaiting assurances that something has been done to prevent others suffering. Hillingdon Council have since accepted that they failed to safeguard the health and safety of their employees. What makes this case so sad is that this could have been avoided."

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