Can you help grieving wife from Sandy solve the riddle of her husband’s death?

Richard Smith and his grandchildren

Richard Smith and his grandchildren - Credit: Archant

One year on from his passing, the wife of a grandfather of 14 who died from asbestos-related cancer has spoken of her shock at her husband’s sudden death.

Richard Smith with one of his grandchildren

Richard Smith with one of his grandchildren - Credit: Archant

Pamela Smith from Sandy said her late husband Richard, a life-long carpenter and part-time DJ, ‘longed for answers’ as to how he became exposed to asbestos before he passed away on January 2, 2016, aged just 64.

Richard – a father of four, and great-grandfather of one – was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the lungs which develops decades after exposure to asbestos dust, in October 2015 after suffering from repeated chest infections and shortness of breath.

After his death, Pamela instructed expert asbestos related disease lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to continue Richard’s search for the source of his exposure.

She said: “Richard was always so healthy. He loved life, his work and his horse, Sky.

Richard and Pamela Smith

Richard and Pamela Smith - Credit: Archant

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“His diagnosis and then his death such a short time later really hit us hard.

“He was always the life and soul of the party, always fun, always joking. Everyone knew him and that was proven by the 300 people who came to pay their respects at his funeral.”

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She continued: “He was looking forward to his retirement, which would have been in April this year, as he’d planned to build up his DJ-ing and help out at the local school. He never had any real opportunity to accept his diagnosis. He just left us too quickly.

“Now my family and I just want to know how he got mesothelioma and how he was exposed to asbestos. We have so many questions, if anyone could help it would enable us to move on and just think of Richard in happier times.”

Richard and Pamela Smith

Richard and Pamela Smith - Credit: Archant

Richard left school aged 15 in 1966 and started work as a carpenter with joinery firm R & H Wells in Gamlingay.

Two years later he moved to Potton Timber and Engineering, close to Sandy, where he worked until 1973 and where he believed he was exposed to asbestos.

Irwin Mitchell is now appealing for anyone who worked at Potton Timber and Engineering in the 1960s and 1970s to come forward with any information they may have about the use of asbestos at the firm.

Ian Bailey, an expert asbestos-related disease lawyer at Irwin Mitchell who is representing Pamela, said: “Mesothelioma is an aggressive and incurable cancer which causes so much distress for its victims and their families. Through our work we represent a large number of people who develop mesothelioma after exposure to asbestos decades ago.

“Before he died, Richard told us that during his time at Potton Timber & Engineering he made blocks from modular housing, sawing his blocks to size for use in the building industry.

“Richard told us he and his colleagues were not warned of the dangers of working with asbestos, nor were they provided with any training or any respiratory protective equipment such as masks. He said the cutting process caused dust to spread through the factory and it was each man’s job to clear up the mess they each made.

“Sadly, Richard will never have the answers he hoped for prior to his death, but it is important to his family to know how he came to be exposed to asbestos. Nothing can of course bring Richard back, but with these answers his family can focus on happier memories and, of course, the future.”

Anyone who worked at Potton Timber and Engineering in the 1960s and 1970s and has any information regarding the use of asbestos at the firm, no matter how insignificant it may seem, should contact Ian Bailey at Irwin Mitchell on 0207 421 4754, or or email him at

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