A pillar of the Nuneaton community and a gold medal Paralympian has sadly passed away at the age of 78. Ian Smith will be remembered by so many – and leaves a legacy that lives on in his family name.
He was the driving force behind the family business W Smith & Sons, which was first established in Nuneaton in 1851. It was originally based in the town center but, under Mr. Smith’s management, she 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 years old.
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Mr. Smith went to work on the farm, but 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 the hospital. This period led him to make two important decisions – one to pursue a career in the funeral industry and to work with his father in the family business.
Second, after being encouraged by hospital staff to play sports, he took up archery. This would lead to him meeting his wife Lynda after they met at an archery field.
They married on December 10, 1983 and were married for 37 years.
But archery didn’t just bring the love of his life, he discovered he had a huge talent for the sport.
So much so that he won 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 father sadly passed away in 1988.
At the time the business was based in Stratford Street, but over the years Ian decided to move to new premises which were custom built to provide full access for his wheelchair.
Well respected not only in his hometown, Mr. Smith has also been recognized by his peers and was President of the National Association Of Funeral Directors Coventry Guild twice – in 1981 and also in the years 2000-2001.
Sadly, Ian passed away at home on April 3 with his wife Lynda by his side.
His loss is felt by his family and friends as well as his colleagues.
“Ian was a pillar of the Nuneaton community and will be sorely missed,” said a post on the company’s Facebook page.
Celebration of his life
A memorial service is to be held to celebrate his life tomorrow (Wednesday, May 4).
It is held at St Nicholas Parish Church, Nuneaton at 2 p.m.
His family have chosen to support the Warwickshire and Northamptonshire Air Ambulance on his behalf and donations can be made via the page here