Chris Smith: Charitable fund launched in the name of Team GB runner who tragically died in the Perthshire hills six months ago

Six months ago today, fell runner Chris Smith sadly lost his life while out running in Perthshire – now to honour him, his family have announced that they are launching a memorial fund charitable trust in his name.

Chris set off on a run from Invervar near Aberfeldy, Perth and Kinross, on the afternoon of Tuesday, October 27, 2020.

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.

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When he didn’t appear, emergency services were called and an extensive search-and-rescue operation began. Sadly, his body was found two days later.

At the time, Chris’ family and friends paid tribute to him and his wife, Lindsay Smith, offered her thanks for the unwavering support they received during the ordeal.

They also announced that they were launching a memorial fund in his name, which to date has raised almost £22,000.

Following its success, to mark the six month anniversary of Chris’ death, the family are launching a grant scheme in his name – the Chris Smith Memorial Fund Charitable Trust – to help athletes from all walks of life fulfil their potential.

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Chris and Lindsay Smith.

How the scheme was created

The objective of the fund is to boost the advancement of running related sports, particularly focusing on hill running by offering grants to aspiring athletes.

Speaking exclusively to the Scotsman, Lindsay Smith said that there were three main things which shaped the development of the scheme.

She said: “The first thing was that when we set up the fundraiser we had no idea that it would be so successful and we were overwhelmed by the generosity and the amount that we raised, it’s been quite astounding to us.

Chris Smith died in October, 2020, after going for a run in the Perthshire hills.

"We raised a substantial amount of money and realised we could do something really meaningful.

"The second thing was that when Chris initially died, so many people said to me how he had advised and guided them on running, about how he always took the time to chat to people at the end of the race and chat to people about their training and share tips, and that was something we really wanted to capture – his ability to always help and guide others.”

The third and final reason which prompted the family to create the scheme was the benefits that they felt running brought to Chris’ life.

Mrs Smith continued: “Chris came to be a runner through his family, they were an exceptional support for him and his parents would give up their weekends to drive him around the country to get to different races and support him.

Chris Smith with his wife Lindsay and their two boys, Alastair and Cameron.

"While running may not be the most expensive sport out there, if you want to get on you need to have either the money to pay to get to races or have someone who will drive you to them.

"We would love for the scheme to help someone who doesn’t have the same opportunity or someone who doesn’t have anyone to drive them around like Chris had, we don’t want that to stop anyone”.

How the scheme will work

There are no set rules regarding how much money or for what purpose people can apply for the grants, Mrs Smith said they envisage most to be in the region of a few hundred pounds but that they “didn’t want to set parameters” which meant they couldn’t help someone.

She said: “If someone came forward looking for more for something which we felt was really meaningful and would make a significant difference to even just one little group of people, we intend to be quite open to that”.

An official website is due to be launched in the next few weeks with exact details on how to apply for a grant through the scheme.

You can follow to the progress and find out how the money is being spent on the Chris Smith Memorial Fund Facebook page.

Plans are being processed to change the status of the scheme from a fundraiser to a charitable trust, meaning people can continue to donate even once the fundraising page closes on June, 30.

Family reaction

Mrs Smith said she feels incredibly proud of what they have achieved since Chris died six months ago.

She said: “When you go through a major tragedy I think having something positive to focus on is really motivating.

"I think it also shows what you can achieve, and I am honestly absolutely thrilled with it.”

Chris was a father to two boys, Alastair and Cameron, and Mrs Smith said that they are completely “wowed” with the money raised.

She continued: “This has been so positive for all of us but I think especially for the boys – it’s been great for them to see the support and to hear all the lovely things that people have to say about their dad.”

In a statement issued this morning by the family, Marianne, Chris’ sister said: “Our hope is that these grants will allow people the opportunities to access the benefits and experiences that athletics and running can bring.

"Whether it’s a PE teacher seeking funds for a promising athlete to get running shoes, to apply to attend a mountain running event, or to join a local athletics club we are very excited to be able to support disadvantaged young people in this way and it is a lasting legacy for Chris.

“He really would have loved that we are doing this and it’s really special to be able to support young athletes that perhaps wouldn’t have gained these experiences otherwise in his name”.

A heartfelt thank you

Mrs Smith added: “I just want to thank everyone for everything.

"Thank you to the people who have contributed, and everyone for all the lovely things that they have said, and for the constant support – practically, but also virtually, in so many ways, it’s really blown us away, thank you.”

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