Wife of Team GB fell runner ‘did not realise impact until his death’

The wife of a Team GB fell runner who died on holiday in Scotland last month has said she did not realise the impact he had on people’s lives until his death.

Chris Smith set off on a run from Invervar near Aberfeldy, Perth and Kinross, on the afternoon of Tuesday October 27.

The 43-year-old was aiming to tackle a route including four Munros – Meall nan Aighean, Carn Mairg, Meall Garbh and Carn Gorm – and planned to return two hours later.

Emergency services were called when he did not return and a search-and-rescue operation began, with Mr Smith’s body being found two days later.

A memorial fund (https://www.totalgiving.co.uk/appeal/chrissmith) has been set up in honour of Mr Smith, who was originally from Aberdeenshire but lived in Haywards Heath, West Sussex, with his wife Lindsay and two young sons Cameron and Alastair.

Speaking to the PA news agency, Mrs Smith said: “There are three reasons why we’d like to do this: first as a legacy for Chris and his two children so they always know how awesome their dad was and continues to be.

“The second reason is I’ve read so many tributes that have referenced Chris giving training tips to others, encouraging less experienced runners – and this has come from everyday joggers right up to people who are now elite athletes.

“From my point of view I guess I didn’t really know how much of an impact he had on other runners from this perspective until this awful thing happened. I want to do something with that.

“And the third reason is because Chris was always positive in everything he did – we very much made things happen together and I can say, hand on heart, if he had anything to do with this, without a doubt, he would have wanted me to do something positive with this tragedy.

“None of this will ever bring him back, and truthfully I would do anything to change that and bring him back, but as a family it will really help us and we really hope whatever we decide to do with this money it will one day help other people and in particular other runners.”

Chris Smith
The Chris Smith Memorial Fund has been set up after his death last month (Family handout/PA)

A GoFundMe page (https://www.gofundme.com/f/missing-chris-smith-scottish-mountain-rescue) was previously set up by someone separate from the family to support the work of Scottish Mountain Rescue in the searches for Mr Smith, and raised £6,270.

One early donation to the new memorial fund came with the message: “With deepest sympathy from all at Aberdeen Coastguard.”

Mrs Smith added: “The mountain rescue fund was set up by a fellow runner who just took it upon himself just to do something… we were really blown away by that.

“It’s great (the coastguard) have chosen to donate, we’re really grateful for that.”

Mr Smith’s funeral will take place on Friday afternoon at a church in the village of Cuckfield, near where the family live.

My cousin Chris will live on forever in the heart of everyone who knew him. We want his energy and enthusiasm and passion to be celebrated for years to come. It's still early days- but If you can donate, you will help build a lasting legacy in his name.https://t.co/BhYdANxjKU

— Ruth McKee (@ruthamckee) November 18, 2020

The service will be streamed online for those unable to attend with only a small number of people in the church due to coronavirus restrictions.

Any money raised by the memorial fund will be held by the Sussex Community Foundation with the local support bringing comfort to the family.

Mrs Smith told PA: “The support from home has been outstanding, we live in a really lovely community here.

“We’ve had meals delivered to us every night by different friends, just practical things like that.

“We’ve had so many cards and people phoning and checking in on us and making sure I’m OK or if the boys need anything.

“It’s very comforting to go through something like this but know you’re surrounded by love and support.”

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