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Tributes paid to key figure in Nairn's Team Hamish project

By Donald Wilson

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Jan Smithson with young Hamish in happier times.
Jan Smithson with young Hamish in happier times.

A Nairn family who suffered the double tragedy of losing eight year-old Hamish Hey to cancer in 2017 then his mum Susan to the same disease last year have been dealt a further blow.

Jan Smithson, who was Hamish's great-aunt and was a key player in the "Team Hamish" campaign to build a lasting legacy for the inspirational youngster, died unexpectedly at her home, Broomholm Lodge in Seabank Road.

Hamish's story, which captured the hearts of the nation, inspired the whole community to get behind the family's fund-raising to build a splash pad at the town's links in his memory.

It was recently completed with the installation of brightly covered benches at the site of the former paddling pool beside the seashore.

Hamish fought a rare cancer which led to the amputation of a leg. Then the family was devastated when they heard cancer had returned and he passed away in 2017. They were still coming to terms with the news his condition was terminal when Hamish's mum Susan was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

She passed away in May 2020 and due to Covid restrictions hundreds of people lined the streets of Nairn to pay tribute to the courageous mum who battled her own illness for five years.

Susan, her husband Sam and Hamish's sister Lily initiated Team Hamish, supported by the family.

The community and beyond’s incredible support enabled the funding towards the first phase of the Links development- Nairn Splash Pad.

Sadly, Susan passed away just before the Splash Pad was started

Sam, Lily and grandparents Liz and Danny Bow have continued the "Team Hamish" appeal which captures the imagination of the town.

Retired teacher Jan (75), Liz's elder sister, was a key part of the campaign and involved in all the fund-raising races and enterprises.

"She was always very much part of Sam and Lily's lives," said Liz.

"She was very active in the community. Her death was totally unexpected and she'll be sorely missed."

Liz said Jan too had tragedy in her own life losing her husband Bill in an air accident at an air show in England in 1983.

"Bill was a pilot in the Army Air Corps. Her son Angus was only eight months old when his dad was killed. Jan and Angus moved to Nairn in 1988 to be nearer our family and she taught at Millbank Primary School. Angus grew up here before going off to university and he, and his fiancee Victoria are moving to Nairn. Their wedding has been postponed due to the Covid restrictions.

"She is a huge loss to the family and I'm sure her passing will be felt by the wider community of Nairn."

Angus (38) said: "It all came as a terrible shock. Victoria and I have bought a house and are moving to Nairn to live permanently this month and mum was really looking forward to that after all the family has been through in the past few years.

"Mum was a very strong and positive person. She just got on with life, bringing me up after dad's death and I know that's what she would have wanted of me. Just to go forward and be positive.

"Like Liz and Danny, Sam and Lily, I'll be forever grateful to the kind people of Nairn who have been there to support us all through another very difficult time."

Caption: Jan Smithson and young Hamish in happier times.

Jan Smithson with young Hamish in happier times.
Jan Smithson with young Hamish in happier times.

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