THE wife of a courageous Blidworth man, who was given just six months to live in 1993, has paid tribute to him after he lost his long battle with illness.
Pete Richards (63), who died on 21st February, was diagnosed with adenoidal cystic carcinoma of the right salivary gland 17 years ago and endured several operations - which included having half his tongue and jaw removed and a tracheotomy.
The father-of-three was left with a severe speech impediment and dependent on a tube for food and liquids but his wife Liz said he lived his life for others despite his cancer.
She said she would remember Pete as a creative man who worked very hard to fulfil his commitments and potential despite the terrible effects of his illness.
“He was very, very brave but said he was not. Pete always said bravery was when you had a choice,” she said.
“He was an extraordinary person and the last 17 years of his life were decided by the operations. But he just on got on with his life despite spending six hours a day being fed by a tube.”
Pete was told by a consultant most people could expect to live no more than six months when he was diagnosed - but Liz said her husband was determined not to let the cancer beat him.
Added Liz: “He was an extraordinary person and always said he would hang in there until the boys had grown up. He painted and rendered the front of the house last summer - he was determined not to leave me without it done. People could not believe it when they went past the house.”
Pete’s cancer returned in 2004 but doctors were unable to treat it as he would not have survived the surgery. His funeral was held at Mansfield Crematorium on Friday - a day before the couple’s 23rd wedding anniversary.
Said Liz: “He made a much bigger mark than I would have ever thought. There were people who did not know him at the funeral - it was very moving.”
The father-of-three was born in Radford, Nottingham, and showed great artistic and sporting potential.
He had a trial at Nottingham Forest and played table tennis for the city under 18s. At 24 he left England and worked his way around Australia and south east Asia.
Devoted wife Liz described him as a man whose love of music and sports allowed him to join in with community life wherever he went.
He was still raising money for Smile Train, a charity which helps children with cleft lips and palates, in the last months of his life.
“Everyone speaks of his social adaptability, kindness and amusing wit,” added Liz.
Pete married his first wife Diane in 1980 after returning from overseas to settle in Nottingham and had his first son, Mathew, in 1983.
They later divorced and he met Liz at a Nottingham pub pool tournament in 1987. The couple married in March 1988 and lived on Fishpool Road. Pete had two other sons with Liz, Jack (22) and Lewis (19).
l To make a donation to Smile Train, visit www.smiletrain.org.uk.