Nav­i­gat­ing the fu­ture

Berkshire Life - - LOCAL LIFE - WORDS: Sarah Rodi

Ed Smith will be row­ing across the At­lantic in mem­ory of his brave wife, Anna, keep­ing her legacy alive for their young daugh­ter

“Anna and I met on a Firearms Po­lice course in 2010,” says Ed. “It was se­ri­ous from the start, and we moved in to­gether three years later, in a lovely lit­tle Berkshire vil­lage called Stan­ford Din­g­ley. We spent our time go­ing for coun­try­side walks and ex­plor­ing lo­cal pubs. We moved to a big­ger place in Thatcham in 2015, and Anna left the po­lice and got a new job in IT re­cruit­ment, while I trans­ferred to the Metropoli­tan Po­lice. Shortly after­wards, our daugh­ter, Alba, was born. Ev­ery­thing was per­fect, or so I thought.”

In May 2017, Anna be­gan to com­plain of tummy pains. “She never moaned about any­thing, so I knew some­thing wasn’t right,” says Ed. “She went for a check-up and had some scans, and that’s when the doc­tors found a shadow on her liver.”

At just 37 years old, new mum Anna was di­ag­nosed with bowel cancer, which had spread to her liver and lungs.

“The doc­tors said she had four years to live. We were dev­as­tated,” says Ed. “But even then Anna was so brave. ‘At least I’ll get to see Alba go to school,’ she told me.” At that point, Alba was just six months old.

Anna opted to have chemo­ther­apy, and the first round helped. But the two rounds plus the ra­dio­ther­apy that fol­lowed sadly didn’t do any­thing. Through­out her treat­ment, Anna was helped by the char­ity Vic­to­ria’s Prom­ise, which sup­ports and em­pow­ers young women and their fam­i­lies through cancer and be­yond. They of­fer sup­port ser­vices out­side of the hospi­tal, such as beauty ther­apy and coun­selling, wig fund­ing, child­mind­ing and more.

“Anna made so many close friends through the char­ity.

The com­mu­nity it cre­ates is won­der­ful,” says Ed.” The peo­ple there un­der­stood what Anna was go­ing through. She could speak to them about things she couldn’t tell oth­ers. They had disco nights, re­lax­ation ses­sions, nu­tri­tion work­shops... They also of­fer sup­port to fam­i­lies. They even pro­vided us with a cleaner, which was a god­send, as we could then spend pre­cious time with Alba in­stead of clean­ing the house.

“Our friends and fam­ily, and work, were also in­cred­i­ble,” adds Ed. “They treated us to sur­prise trips to Lon­don Zoo, a tour of 10 Down­ing Street, and a friend also or­gan­ised for Rita Ora’s make-up artist to come and do Anna’s hair and make-up on our wed­ding day. They even gave her ‘Bey­once’ nails.”

Ed and Anna had planned to get mar­ried in Septem­ber 2018, but Anna was be­com­ing in­creas­ingly poorly, so they de­cided to bring the wed­ding day for­ward.

“We got mar­ried at Shaw

House in New­bury and had our re­cep­tion at the Royal Oak in Yat­ten­don. There were just 27 peo­ple there and it was amaz­ing. We got to spend qual­ity time with ev­ery­one,” Ed says. “We spent our hon­ey­moon in a vin­tage camper­van on the Juras­sic Coast. Anna wasn’t very well, but she bat­tled through it, putting on a brave face for Alba and I, and we had a lovely few days away.”

But when they ar­rived home Anna was taken to hospi­tal – still in­sis­tent on wear­ing her Bey­once nails, says Ed. “She died a few days later. We had been mar­ried for just 10 days.

“Anna was an in­cred­i­ble woman. Through­out her life she in­spired peo­ple. She wanted to

ABOVE: The Anna Vic­to­ri­ous Crew, who are set to row 3,000 miles across the At­lantic in mem­ory of Ed’s wife Anna

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