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I can’t forget my boy, says mother of crash victim
Published 23/09/13

THE mother of a teenager who died in a car crash says her son is the first and last thing she thinks about each day.

Sam Kelly-Smyth was speaking a year after losing Josh Smith, who died when his Ford Fiesta hit a tree in Peppard Road, Emmer Green, last September.

On Saturday, the 19-year-old from Sonning Common was remembered at a football tournament involving more than 30 of his friends and family at Bishopswood recreation ground in Gallowstree Common.

A memorial bench paid for with donations was also unveiled.

Mrs Kelly-Smyth, 46, said her son was never far from family conversations and she was reminded of him every day.

“I wouldn’t say it gets easier because it doesn’t,” she said. “You carry it around with you and just have to learn to live with it.

“It’s the first thing and the last thing I think about as well as throughout the day.

“A lot of things remind me of Josh, things that the kids come out with sometimes. You hear something and say, ‘oh yeah, remember when Josh did that’. It could be football or music — everything he loved down to Nandos, which was his favourite place to eat. It’s lovely because it keeps him alive.”

Mrs Kelly-Smyth said her three other children, Jamie, 26, Alex, 24, and Georgia, 18, and Josh’s stepfather Aston, 46, had been “brilliant” in comforting her and Josh’s grandmother Sheila Stevens, 65, who has been ill.

“They’ve been amazing looking after me and my mum and have been really brave,” she said.

“They have their moments about Josh, like we all do, but they have been fantastic — especially Jamie who organised the football tournament.”

The five-a-side event featured six teams and included Josh’s brothers, stepfather and grandfather Cliff Stevens, 64, from Tokers Green.

Mr Stevens played in all three matches and headed the winning goal in a third place play-off.

The winning team of Will Downs, George Boyd-Jones, Joe Smyth, Matthew O’Riordan, Daniel J Toms and Kenny Brannen won the Josh Smith Memorial Trophy, which will now be played for annually.

Mrs Kelly-Smyth said the event was “great fun” and Josh, a Chelsea fan, would have loved it.

She said it had been nice to see Josh’s friends but admitted it would be difficult to watch them grow older.

“I don’t see them that much,” said Mrs Kelly-Smyth. “One of the girls said they don’t like to disturb me, which is fair enough.

“Sometimes I can be strong when they come round. They are all a year older, which doesn’t make that much of a difference at the moment but it’s scary to see them looking older when my son remains 19.”

The bench has the inscription: “We love you so much — miss you like crazy”.

It cost 1,000 and was funded by a 10km run in which Mrs Kelly-Smyth and Mr Stevens participated, a raffle held by Millie’s Cookies in The Oracle in Reading, where Josh worked, and donations by the Reformation and Greyhound pubs, where he also worked. Donations were also made by Rotherfield United FC, which owns the recreation ground, family and friends and former Reading FC captain Ady Williams, who lives in Tokers Green and attended the occasion.

Mrs Kelly-Smyth said: “The bench is more for his friends than for me. I’ve still got his ashes in his bedroom but, as weird as it sounds, they don’t mean that much to me because I know it’s not him.

“With the bench my dad and I wanted his friends to have somewhere nice to sit and have memories.

“He used to spend so much time with his friends playing there. It was all nice things he did up there so we thought it would be a fitting location for the bench.”

Mr Kelly Smyth, who put on his football boots for the first time in 20 years, said it was an emotional day for everyone involved.

“It’s still hard, we miss him so much,” he said. “This has been the longest year I’ve known.”

After the tournament, the group went to the Reformation for drinks and listened to Blink 182, Josh’s favourite band.

Mrs Kelly-Smyth thanked her friends and family for their support, adding: “It has just been wonderful and keeps us going.”

An inquest held in March heard that Josh died after being two-and-a-half times over the drink-drive limit following a night out with his friends in Reading.

Published 23/09/13

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