A pillar of Nuneaton’s community and a Gold-medal winning Paralympian has sadly died aged 78. Ian Smith will be fondly remembered by so many – and leaves a legacy that continues his family name.
He was the driving force behind the family run business of W Smith & Sons, which was first established in Nuneaton in 1851. It was originally based in the town center but, under Mr Smith’s helm, it moved to Attleborough.
Born in Caldecote in December 1943, he moved to live on his uncle’s farm, Calender Grove on the LongShoot, when he was three.
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Mr Smith went to work on the farm but he suffered life-changing injuries in a serious car accident in 1970. In fact he was left paralyzed from the waist down.
He spent six months completely flat in hospital. This time led him to make two huge decisions – one to pursue a career in the funeral industry and work with his father at the family business.
Secondly, having been encouraged by the hospital staff to pursue a sport, he took up archery. This would lead him to meet his wife Lynda after they met on an Archery field.
They tied the knot on December 10, 1983 and were married for 37 years.
But archery did not just bring the love of his life, he found he had a huge talent for the sport.
So much so that he went on to win gold and silver medals at the Paraplegic Olympics in 1974.
Away from the archery field, Ian learned his trade from his father and took over the family business when his dad sadly died in 1988.
At the time the business was based in Stratford Street but over the years Ian decided to move to a new premises that was custom-built to provide full access for his wheelchair.
Well respected not only in his hometown, Mr Smith was also recognized by his peers and was the president of the National Association of Funeral Directors Coventry Guild twice – in 1981 and also the years 2000-2001.
Sadly, Ian passed away at home on April 3 with his wife Lynda by his side.
His loss is being felt by his family and friends as well as colleagues.
“Ian was a pillar of the Nuneaton community and will be so sadly missed,” said a post on the firm’s Facebook page.
Celebration of his life
A memorial service is to be held to celebrate his life is being held tomorrow (Wednesday, May 4).
It is being held at St Nicholas Parish church, Nuneaton at 2pm.
His family have chosen to support the Warwickshire and Northamptonshire Air Ambulance in his name and donations can be made via the page here