Wirksworth widow raises £25,000 for charity Hope Against Cancer which gave family precious last year

A Wirksworth woman who lost her husband to cancer last summer has since raised £25,000 to thank a charity which helped the family spend one last precious year together – and she has no intention of stopping there.

Wednesday, 27th October 2021, 5:28 pm
Updated Wednesday, 27th October 2021, 5:30 pm

Pittywood Road resident Susan Smith lost her husband Sean to mesothelioma, a form of cancer linked to asbestos, in July 2020 when he was aged just 52.

They had been married for 26 years and raised daughters Megan and Hannah into adulthood before those final months made possible by Hope Against Cancer, a research charity based in Leicester.

Playgroup supervisor Susan said: “Hope Against Cancer gave my family an extra year with Sean after he was diagnosed. Without their work and without their care, we would not have been able to have that precious time together.

Sean and Susan Smith with daughters Megan, right, and Hannah.

“I initially set out to raise £50,000 in ten years, so to have hit £25,000 in the first year alone is absolutely amazing and says so much about how people felt about Sean.”

A self-employed domestic appliance engineer, Sean was born and raised in Wirksworth and joined his dad’s firm Tony Smith & Son in his mid-20s, making him a familiar face around town.

The affection he was held in is evident in the success and diversity of fundraising activities supported by the whole community, including two clay pigeon shoots this summer at clubs in Brassington and Darley Dale which raised more than £14,000 in total.

Last month, Susan hosted a black-tie ball which brought 100 guests to Oakhill in Cromford raising £5,350.

Susan Smith and Peter Lomas present the trophy to the clay pigeon shoot winner Nick Walker at Harboro Rocks Shoot where Sean was a member.

The campaign has inspired feats of endurance far beyond the Derbyshire Dales too.

Susan’s sister Yvonne Mammatt and her husband Martin raised more than £3,000 walking the 186-mile Pembrokeshire coast path, their daughter Holly collected £400 running the Perth half-marathon in Australia; and family friend Paul Higton donated £700 after a cycle ride across England.

As they begin making plans to repeat their success, Susan, her family and friends, are currently in the process of registering and setting up the Sean Smith Foundation to channel future donations to Hope Against Cancer.

In recognition of her incredible efforts, Susan has been invited to tell her story at the charity’s business club lunch.

Holly Mammatt at the end of the Perth half-marathon.

The event brings 60 companies and 200 guests together to help promote and fund a research programme which has worldwide impact, and will also hear from medical experts on their latest breakthroughs in cancer care.

Chief executive Nigel Rose said: “Susan talks so passionately about her, her family’s and Sean's experience before he so tragically passed away.

“It was a real privilege to meet her and members of her family at the fundraising ball. They know first-hand that their staggering fundraising efforts will help our charity to continue to fund vital, life-saving research for the benefit of cancer patients in the East Midlands region now and into the future.”

To follow the family’s campaign and find out how to support it , go www.facebook.com/SeanSmithFoundation.

Martin and Yvonne Mammatt at the end of their Pembrokeshire Coast Path walk.

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Susan Smith and Hope Against Cancer chief executive Nigel Rose at the fundraising ball in Cromford.