Chesterfield College lecturer took his own life after living with debilitating illness, inquest hears

A Chesterfield College lecturer tragically took his own life after suffering from a debilitating illness for years, an inquest heard.

Thursday, 11th November 2021, 3:50 pm

Richard Wilson, 48, also known as Richie, died when he was struck by a train at Dronfield railway station on the morning of February 19.

Chesterfield Coroner’s Court was told Mr Wilson, of Cemetery Road, Dronfield, suffered from dystonia for ‘many’ years.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Chesterfield College, where Richard Wilson worked as a lecturer.

Dystonia is a neurological movement disorder which is estimated to affect at least 100,000 people in the UK. It presents with uncontrollable muscle spasms triggered by incorrect signals from the brain and it can be painful.

The inquest heard Mr Wilson was struggling to function prior to his death as a result of the condition, even finding it difficult to pick up cutlery.

Gillian Wilson, who was married to former RAF serviceman Mr Wilson for eight years, told Thursday’s hearing: “Everything he wanted to do, he couldn’t.

“He got to the point where he was hopeless – he couldn’t see a way out.

“He was taking all sorts of medication but it didn’t work.”

The court was told that at Mr Wilson’s last appointment with his neurologist – the day before his death – it was decided the end had been reached in being able to suppress his symptoms effectively with medication and that the next step was surgery, something which ‘petrified’ him.

Mrs Wilson said ‘no time frame’ was given for his surgery at this appointment, leaving him ‘flat’.

She told how she did not think Mr Wilson would take his own life, adding: “I always told him we’d get through this together and that things would be OK.”

Mrs Wilson paid tribute to her late husband, describing him as a ‘loving and wonderful’ man whose ‘smile and infectious laugh would light up the room’.

“He was very proud, very strong-willed,” she added.

“He absolutely loved his job but he had to take a long time off work because of his illness.”

Since his death, Mrs Wilson has been working to raise awareness about dystonia and fundraise for research into the condition – something which coroner Sarah Huntbach commended.

Ms Huntbach said ‘all reasonable steps’ were taken to seek to manage Mr Wilson’s illness but she concluded, on the balance of probabilities, that he intended to take his own life that day.

She recorded a conclusion of suicide and described his death as ‘tragic’.

After Mr Wilson died, Julie Richards, principal and chief executive of Chesterfield College, paid tribute to him.

She said: “Our thoughts are with Richie’s family and friends at this very sad time.

“He worked at the college for many years supporting students to develop their knowledge and skills in public services.

“More recently he worked as a Workskills Tutor where he had a significant impact on supporting students to build their confidence and return to work, securing employment opportunities for hundreds of local residents.

“His kindness, loyalty and commitment were incredible and he will be greatly missed by everyone at Chesterfield College.”

For more information about dystonia, visit www.dystonia.org.uk

Whatever you're going through, a Samaritan will face it with you. The charity is here 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Call 116 123, free of charge, or email [email protected]

Support your Derbyshire Times by becoming a digital subscriber. You will see 70 per cent fewer ads on stories, meaning faster load times and an overall enhanced user experience. Visit www.derbyshiretimes.co.uk/subscriptions