Retired printer Keith Turnbull, of Frankland Road, Croxley Green, who died after a three-year fight with an asbestos-related cancer, contracted the disease from his father's overalls as a child, an inquest heard on Thursday.

Born on May 27, 1945, in Watford, Mr Turnbull was diagnosed with mesothelioma - a fatal cancer contracted through contact with asbestos - in October 2008.

The inquest, held in Hatfield, heard how he was exposed to the fire-retardant material as a child, when it was brought into his family home on his father's overalls.

Mr Turnbull lived in his parents’ home until 1968 when, aged 23, he married wife Judith, a librarian. His brother Martyn also lived in the family home, which was only 500 metres away from the asbestos factory in Croxley Moor, where his father worked.

Coroner Edward Thomas said: "Keith's father was exposed to asbestos while working at Cape Universal and it was brought home with him.

"Martyn recalls his father, an asbestos moulder, coming home wearing his work overalls. He remembers them covered in dust. At one time he describes him looking like a snowman.

"The family would greet him and hug him as he came through the door and they were clearly exposed to asbestos at that stage. He had no knowledge that there was any particular problem. Those who worked in that industry had no idea."

Mr Thomas also said that if a person is exposed to asbestos, and then develops mesothelioma, it is more likely than not that the disease was caused by the exposure.

After diagnosis in 2008, Mr Turnbull was given just six months to live, but held on for more than three years, passing away aged 66 on February 1.

A grandfather, he travelled to Frankfurt in Germany more than ten times with Judith to receive specialist treatment, costing £3,500 a trip. The treatment, called localised chemo-embolisation, helped to keep Keith's cancer at bay.

Because he came into contact with asbestos before the dangers of the material were known, Mr Turnbull could not claim any compensation for his condition and was forced to retire.

Last April, Mrs Turnbull said: "We only had three years to apply for compensation from the time of diagnosis and we have tried two or three different solicitors. Because Keith only lived with his dad and family up to 1968 when we married, and his dad transferred jobs, according to the solicitors it would be a very difficult case to prove.

"We can only afford another four or five trips. Knowing the treatment is available but that we can't afford it is gutting. What price is life?"

The Croxley Green Residents' Association rallied around the Turnbulls, opening a special community fundraising account and holding a fundraising event in 2010.

Vicki Sylvester, neighbour and friend, also ran in the Virgin London Marathon in April 2011, to raise awareness and also to raise money for Mr Turnbull. She finished in three hours 49 minutes.

Despite a brave fight, Mr Turnbull's time eventually ran out and his funeral was held in All Saints Church, Croxley Green on February 15.

Coroner Edward Thomas recorded a narrative verdict for Mr Turnbull's death, stating: "He died of mesothelioma in consequence of his father's exposure to asbestos at work."

The damage caused by asbestos can often take many years to manifest itself, and the ban on blue and brown asbestos was only brought about in 1985.

Mrs Turnbull said: "It will almost certainly affect many people who were in contact with asbestos 20 or 30 years ago and who so far will be unaware that the clock is ticking."

You can donate to the Keith Turnbull Snowdrop Fund in aid of Mesothelioma Research, c/o James Peddle Ltd, 172 New Road, Croxley Green, Rickmansworth WD3 3HD.