For the world, and for so many as these tributes testify, Mrs Smith was a powerful, remarkable and visionary woman of faith and of deep conviction but also of love and compassion.
On a personal level, Mrs Smith loved and counselled me and was involved in my life as a common thread from when I was born all the way until she passed away. In life, such people are already rare but there is so much more. She also loved and counselled my parents in the Christian faith as they brought my sister and I up. She was my primary school Headteacher at Woodlands and put in enormous love and energy into our spiritual, moral, literary and overall education, giving us an incredible level of individual attention. This grounding set me up for life in so many ways, for which the benefits will be lifelong. Through late primary and secondary school she educated us about the Holocaust and the importance of inclusive values – and her testimony-based and storytelling-based method for doing this was an important predecessor to Aegis Trust’s peace and values education that was implemented at Kigali Genocide Memorial in Rwanda and expanded into Rwanda’s national curriculum under DfID and Sida funding in the past decade.
As a founding Director of Education at the Holocaust Centre, a giant in the origin story of Aegis, and as the original “Champion for Humanity”, Mrs Smith had a foundational influence on my career and life path long after childhood – along with all of us who grew up with her influence. First, there are the values that she instilled in us including a deep desire to do good. Second, my experience on a Holocaust Centre-based gap year Aegis, especially an intense trip to Rwanda from March to April 2004 (before which I remember a long talk with her) working with a large team led by James and Stephen on the opening of the Kigali Genocide Memorial, sparked my interest in peacebuilding, development and the economics of Africa which have become my career. I since moved to Rwanda and even now almost two decades after that Rwanda gap year I still live and work here.
When we were children and adolescents she strongly instilled her fervent Christian faith in me and my cohort, and encouraged us in it throughout adulthood. However, the time came in mid-2020 that after she asked me a direct question about my faith in an email, I had to tell her that I had since become agnostic. However, she continued to correspond and write warmly and with love.
Thank you Mrs Smith for your inspirational example; your legacy will continue to cast a very long shadow indeed upon the following generations.
P.S. Thank you, Stephen for making her Storyfile, it’s a treasure.