Appeal to help solve 'kind, loving' Suffolk man's asbestos death

Bury St Edmunds man David Williams died from asbestos cancer 

Bury St Edmunds man David Williams died from asbestos cancer - Credit: IRWIN MITCHELL

Former workers at a Suffolk iron plant are being called upon to help shed light on how a man developed asbestos cancer and died following a rapid decline in his health. 

Colleagues of Bury St Edmunds man David Williams at Suffolk Iron Foundry in Stowmarket may be able to help solve the mystery of a possible work scenario that lead to the cancer, known as mesothelioma, that killed the former accountant in February. 

His widow Beverley believes he was exposed to harmful asbestos, which causes the lung disease, while working at the foundry during the 1960s, but more information is needed to establish how and where he would have come into contact with the material. 

She is hoping other employees will be able to fill in the blanks. 

Mrs Williams revealed that her husband had been healthy for much of their 44-year marriage, but in December 2020 he developed a cough and was given a course of antibiotics. 

When this failed to clear the problem, a scan and blood tests were arranged and he was admitted to West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds. 

In March 2021, he underwent a biopsy at Papworth Hospital in Cambridge and was diagnosed with cancer the following month. 

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Over the next eight months, his health fluctuated, but Mrs Williams said at the end he deteriorated rapidly. 

She said: “It was a really horrible time. He had periods where he was not too bad and we thought ‘this is ok’ and then at the end the decline was rapid and it was awful to see.” 

When he first developed symptoms, he tried to do some decorating, a task the "diligent" former Lloyds employee would normally accomplish, but only did so "half-heartedly" while complaining that he did not feel well. 

“David was the kindest, hardworking, loving husband that you could possibly wish for. A fabulous father and grandfather. He was very diligent. He was very community-minded. He did a lot of work for the charities in our area,” Mrs Williams added. 

She said he was also a churchwarden, parish councillor and represented a village hall committee. 

“It is really difficult to determine how he was exposed. He had never been ill at all throughout our entire married life. He had been as healthy as anybody,” she added. 

Anyone with information that could assist with this case is asked to contact Natalia Rushworth-White on 01223 791893 or by e-mail at