Fundraiser, 88, always wanted to help people

Edwina Smith, Hospice Of St Francis fundraising stalwart, who has died at the age of 88
Edwina Smith, Hospice Of St Francis fundraising stalwart, who has died at the age of 88

A volunteer who raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for the Hospice of St Francis has passed away.

Edwina Smith, 88, made raising cash for the good cause her life after retiring from work and her efforts even earned her a day out to a royal garden party.

She was also a recipient of the prestigious June Street Award, presented locally each year by the charity Community Action Dacorum to an outstanding volunteer.

Her son David said: “She had a lot of energy in life and she always wanted to help people.

“I think she did a tremendous job. She put an enormous amount of hours in. You could hear her rattling tins in the town centre, she would be at craft fairs or bazaars and she volunteered in the hospice shop.

“It was her life really, particularly after she retired.”

Hospice director Dr Ros Taylor said Edwina will be much missed. “She brought a fantastic sense of humour and optimism to everything she did – and she did so much,” she said.

“She was a pioneer over 30 years ago for our Bereavement Support Service which now supports over 1,000 people per year. She worked tirelessly to raise funds, networking, influencing and spreading the word about care at the hospice. We are deeply grateful for all she did for us and with us.”

Edwina, who moved to Hemel Hempstead from Newcastle in 1960 with tax inspector husband Jim, was a Red Cross nurse during the Second World War and during her working life was based in the finance departments of the Commission for New Towns and then Dacorum Borough Council.

She lived in Boxmoor, then Northchurch and during the last months of her life at Dunsland House in Berkhamsted, where David said she was very happy.

Jim passed away at the hospice in 2004, which brought the charity even closer to her heart, and Edwina also suffered the loss of her daughter Pamela, aged 61, to liver disease in 2008.

The grandmother to three – Lucy Smith and successful professional footballers Tom and Jack Smith – was a trained bereavement counsellor and helped set up the hospice’s first bereavement course. She was also the first volunteer at the charity’s in-patient unit.

“It was just something that was close to her heart,” said David, who lives in Potten End. “My dad died in the hospice but even prior to that she had always done a lot of work.”

In recent years Edwina had also helped homelessness charity DENS and was a keen member of many community groups, as well as worshipping at Carey Baptist Church in Hemel Hempstead.