The widow of a Buckinghamshire man killed by historical asbestos exposure at an RAF base has spoken out after a ‘rare’ case.

The family of a Chesham goldsmith and watchmaker Adam Phillips have secured a six figure settlement from the Ministry of Defence following Adam’s death from cancer caused playing at a disused RAF base as a child.

Father-of-two Adam died of mesothelioma aged 65, a cancer of the lining of the lung, following decades old asbestos exposure when he and his friends spent a lot of time playing on the derelict MoD site at RAF Bovingdon, near to where his family lived.

His wife Marie said commented: “The time from Adam’s diagnosis to his decline and death were devastating. It all feels like yesterday and it’s hard to believe a year has passed since I lost my husband and my best friend. All our plans for our future are now in ruins and I’m not sure either me or the family will ever fully get over it.

“It’s terrible to think that something as innocent as playing as a child all those years ago could lead to such suffering. Adam was a good man and didn’t deserve to see his life ended in this way and through no fault of his own, spend his last years in facing pain and treatment.”

As well as a devastating loss to his family, his rare goldsmith and watchmaker skills were on a ‘critically endangered list’ of professions.

Following a GP visit for coughing and shortness of breath, Adam was diagnosed with mesothelioma in November 2017.

Before his death in July 2021 surrounded by family, Adam had instructed the specialist asbestos- related disease lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to take his case of exposure at the former military site up with the MoD.  

Now Adam’s legal team has secured a substantial six figure settlement from the MoD in connection with his illness. It admitted liability after it was established that Adam came into contact with asbestos while playing as a child at former RAF Bovingdon in Hertfordshire.

Irwin Mitchell’s asbestos- expert Emma Guy said Adam’s case was “particularly unusual as Adam’s exposure to asbestos came when he was a child simply playing outside.”

She added: “Adam and Marie had so many plans for their future but these have been dashed by his death. While no settlement can ever make up for this, Marie hopes that by speaking out, some good can come out of Adam’s death and act as a reminder of why safety regarding asbestos remains such an important issue.”

Marie shared Adam’s story to warn others of the dangers posed by asbestos even today as she knew “Adam would want some good to come of his death.”

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