The widow of a former building merchants’ assistant who died from asbestos-related cancer has issued an appeal for information from anyone who worked with him throughout his career to determine the circumstances of his exposure. 

Mr Donald Vick, originally from Oxfordshire, was enjoying his retirement in the South West of France when he was diagnosed with mesothelioma – an aggressive cancer linked almost exclusively to exposure to asbestos. 

Before he became ill, Mr Vick had been a fit and active man who enjoyed cycling and travelling. However, in the summer of 2022, he became increasingly unwell, suffering from symptoms including breathlessness.  

He sought medical attention and, after a series of tests, was diagnosed with mesothelioma. He underwent treatment in France, but his condition continued to deteriorate, and he sadly died in May last year, aged 78.  

He is survived by his loving wife, Jacqueline, who went on to instruct industrial disease law experts at Thompsons Solicitors to carry out an investigation into his work history to determine when and where he was exposed to asbestos. 

Her legal team is now appealing for witnesses who may have worked with Mr Vick during his career, particularly those who worked with him at the Oxfordshire-based builder’s merchant R J Johnsons of Oxford between 1961 and 1975. 

Speaking to his loved ones before his death, Mr Vick said that it was during this time that he recalled coming into contact with asbestos sheeting, which was regularly stocked within the building merchant’s yard and which he was responsible for cutting down to size to meet specifications using a circular saw. 

He even spoke about how he and his workmates would take turns being ‘downwind’ from the asbestos dust while the work took place.  

Commenting on the case and the appeal for witnesses, Emily Thornton, an asbestos disease specialist at Thompsons Solicitors who is representing Mrs Vick, said: “While the dangers of asbestos have been known for many decades, there are still thousands of deaths attributed to occupational exposure, every single year.   

“Mr Vick’s family, like many others who have lost a loved one to mesothelioma, have found it very difficult to come to terms with the fact that his death should have been preventable.  

“We are now investigating on their behalf to understand better the circumstances surrounding his exposure and whether more could have been done to protect his health.  

“We would be grateful to hear from anyone who remembers working alongside Mr Vick at any point during his career, but particularly those who can recall the working conditions at R J Johnsons of Oxford during the 1960s and 1970s.” 

After leaving school, Mr Vick studied farming before joining R J Johnsons shortly after. Later in life, he became a sales representative in the builder’s merchant and timber industries. 

Mrs Vick added: “Anyone who knew Donald will remember how much of a lively character he was. He always had a lot to say and was lovely to be around. Together, we loved to keep active and would regularly go walking and cycling, so it really was such a shock when he became ill and his health deteriorated so quickly.  

“We had so many plans to travel around Europe in our campervan and enjoy our retirement, and it’s very difficult to come to terms with the fact that we’ve been robbed of that time together.” 

Anyone with information can contact Emily Thornton at Thompsons Solicitors on 02920 445345, or via email at