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British Legion man Colin dies, aged 61
A FORMER soldier and chairman of Canvey ’s Royal British Legion has died after a 17-month battle against lung cancer.
Colin Smith, 61, of Farm Road, Canvey, died peacefully on September 5, after devoting the final years of his life to the legion.
He helped organise the island’s annual veterans’ parades and has been praised for “putting his all” into his duties, even while in extreme pain.
Mr Smith served in Northern Ireland with the Royal Corps of Transport in the late Seventies and early Eighties, and was later an HGV driver.
He has been praised by family, friends and colleagues for his strength of character, with his wife of 28 years, Amelia, and son Mark, 23, being devastated by his loss.
Mrs Smith said: “He was an inspiration. The courage, the strength he showed in fighting the cancer and determination in carrying on with the legion was just amazing. I don’t know how he did it.
“We feel empty without him. He did so much for the island and was loved and respected by so many. We’ve had more than 200 cards from people already.
“Just days before he died, he was determined to attend a concert at Belfairs High School , for which our son had done all the lighting.
“Colin was in pain, but he was adamant he would go to support Mark, whom he doted on – and he did go.
“I still have the last thing he ever made me – a beautiful windchime which he made as a day patient at Fair Havens hospice.”
As Colin fought the cancer, he came to enjoy eating “love heart” sweets. As a poignant symbol, the sweets will be handed out to mourners at his funeral today.
Mrs Smith added: “He always had packets of them with him.
“He’d eat five at a time, and it became a standing joke with us.
“He would tell us how his love hearts were staving off the cancer and keeping him alive.”
Ray Howard , Canvey town councillor, said: “I was so sorry to hear of Colin’s passing. He was so well-respected and did so much for the legion.”
Sandra Hynes, branch secretary of the legion, based in Denham Road, said: “We all miss Colin so much.
“He was a wonderful chairman and a lovely man. We will have a wreath spelling out ‘chairman’ made for his funeral.”
Colin’s funeral will be held at St Nicholas Church, in Long Road, at 2pm, followed by a committal at Pitsea Crematorium.
Donations are being asked to the Poppy Appeal or Fair Havens Day Centre.
Those attending are asked to wear claret and blue in honour of Colin’s love for West Ham Football Club.
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