Navigating the future
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