Rachel Smith RIP

Rachel Smith first came into my life last year,  through the medium of Twitter, where she tweeted as @rachelolgeirsso. Witty and intelligent, Rachel readily engaged others in conversations about politics, life and popular culture. Although we were both active Lib Dems, we’d be as likely to exchange comments about The Apprentice or Strictly Come Dancing as about the coalition or political policies.

Rachel had been an active tweeter through the general election and the formation of the coalition, strong about the Lib Dems place in government and scathing as to what she saw as Labour’s opportunism and hypocrisy, especially where it related to her own constituency of Sheffield Hallam and her MP, the Deputy Prime Minister. So it was no surprise when in July she started blogging. The reason for this soon became clear: Rachel was looking for a distraction whilst she was in hospital, undergoing chemotherapy for leukaemia.Over the summer I shared some time in hospital with Rachel, albeit 200 miles away. I was an in-patient for just nine days and my canula was only for the delivery of antibiotics, nothing compared to Rachel’s gruelling regime. But her concern for me and also for her fellow hospitalised Yorkshire Lib Dem Jennie Rigg was generous and full of the same positivity that she tried to keep alive for her own illness.

In October Rachel was told that her best chance of a cure lay in a bone marrow transplant, The following month she was back in hospital for the treatment she hoped would enable her to continue her life as a wife, mother and community activist. For several weeks her online presence was negligible, as the treatment was, in her words, ‘like being slapped by a giant frying pan’. Before her last course of treatment started, she had set her heart on being home for Christmas. Sadly it was not to be and Rachel died in the early hours of New Year’s Day.

Yesterday Twitter was full of shock at Rachel’s passing, but also of fond memories from those whose lives she had touched, of all political parties and none. We all thought of her husband, two young sons and the rest of her family. Earlier this year, Rachel started an appeal with her sister Cathy to raise money for the leukaemia ward of the Royal Hallamshire Hospital, where Rachel was treated. The appeal is still open and donations in Rachel’s memory are welcome.

Both Caron Lindsay and Spidey have also blogged in memory of Rachel.

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This entry was posted in News and Obituaries.
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10 Comments

  • Andrea Gill 3rd Jan '11 - 10:10am

    I only briefly met Rachel in November when I was in Sheffield and she always lit up my twitter stream. She will be sorely missed and my thoughts are with her close friends and her family.

  • Peter Welch 3rd Jan '11 - 9:37pm

    This is very sad. I thought she made excellent points on twitter. She must be a greatly missed by all who knew her.

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