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I’ll never forget says mother of crash victim, 19
Published 18/02/13

THE mother of a teenager killed in a car crash says her life will never be the same again.

Sam Kelly-Smyth spoke just days after what would have been Josh Smith’s 20th birthday.

Josh, of Ashford Avenue, Sonning Common, was killed when his Ford Fiesta hit a tree in Peppard Road, Emmer Green, on September 15.

His family and friends marked his birthday on Thursday last week by visiting the scene of the crash to light a lantern and lay flowers.

They also visited Bishopswood recreation ground where Mr Smith, a Chelsea fan, often went for a kickabout with friends.

In the evening, 17 friends and family went for a meal at the Tandoori Connoisseur Restaurant in the village, where Josh used to celebrate his birthday each year.

Mrs Kelly-Smyth, 45, said she was still trying to come to terms with her son’s death.

She said: “I woke up very early on his birthday, obviously knowing what day it was. It was hard.

“The more time goes on the harder it gets because that’s the longer I don’t see him and can’t talk to him. It still seems unbelievable.”

Mrs Kelly-Smyth, who has three other children, gave up her job at Curves gym in Reading because she was so grief-stricken.

She said: “I’m living in a different world now. The things I used to do before Josh died I can’t do because there are just so many memories.

“I struggle to get through the day without feeling very emotional. At work, everyone felt sorry for me. I know I would be the same if it was someone else but it was just too hard because it was a constant reminder.

“I’m looking for work but I want to do something completely different.”

The family used to attend the Sunday service at Grace Church in Emmer Green each week but Mrs Kelly-Smyth said she had been unable to return since hundreds of mourners attended her son’s funeral there.

“We just get inundated with sympathy and it gets a bit too much,” she said.

Josh’s ashes are kept in his bedroom, which has been left untouched.

His mother said: “There’s nowhere I would want to put him rather than keep him with me. I said to his friends they can come over and sit in his room whenever they want and quite often they ring up and come round to get some comfort.

“They met up and went into Reading for his birthday, as they would have done if he was still here. His brother Alex went and met up with them. Josh was very close to his brothers and sister.”

Mrs Kelly-Smyth said she enjoyed going for the kickabout, something she would not usually do, and had now taken on the duty of walking the family’s dog, which used to be her son’s role.

An inquest into Josh’s death will take place in Newbury on February 27 and the family will attend.

Mrs Kelly-Smyth, who last saw her son the evening before his death when he dropped her off at a pub to celebrate her ninth wedding anniversary, said: “The inquest won’t bring closure. I won’t ever believe it. If I did, I wouldn’t be able to get up in the morning, it’s as simple as that.

“I have another three children but at times it feels worse because you feel guilty grieving for the child you haven’t got when you have other children to look after.

“It feels like I’ve lost an arm and a leg. I find it very difficult to get up and function. No mother expects to wake up one morning and be told their child has died but that’s what happened to me.I don’t think I could ever believe it. I’m not stupid — I know what’s happened — but I have to get through each day.”

Josh’s stepfather Aston said: “Everyone has been in bits since it happened. Things have got worse, not better. There seem to be more memories. You don’t want it to be real but the longer it goes on the more real it is that he’s not coming home at all.

“When we hear someone at the back door we all think ‘who’s that?’”

Josh was a former pupil of Gillotts School in Henley and The Henley College and worked as a barman at the Reformation pub in Gallowstree Common and the Greyhound in Peppard.

On the day of the crash, police were called at 8.43am after his car was discovered close to Abbey Rugby Club. Mr Smith was pronounced dead at the scene. The crash is believed to have happened at 5.30am.

Published 18/02/13

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