Keen rambler who was happiest exploring the hills and valleys

Date: Tuesday 24th July 2018

LINDA Smith, who died recently, will be remembered by her friends in Cumbria as a keen rambler who was happiest when out exploring the hills and rivers of the Eden Valley and the North Lakes.

Born Linda Terry in Farnham, Surrey, in 1942, she was the third child of Mary and E. A. “Terry” Terry. She studied languages at University College London, followed by a teaching course at Keele University, and married James Ian Harford Smith in 1967. Her daughter, Karen, was born in 1968 and son, Graham, in 1971.

The family lived in Solihull and then spent three years in Sao Paolo, Brazil, where Linda taught French at the international school. Returning to the UK in 1979, Linda and her family settled near Buckingham, where she taught languages at the Royal Grammar School.

In 1990, Linda separated from her husband and moved to Cumbria where she lived in Kirkoswald and then North Dykes. She became a popular member of the community despite being an “offcomer”.

She will be remembered as extremely warm-hearted, intelligent and curious about art, literature and the natural world. Her greatest passion was France and the French language. She had a number of French au pairs with whom she stayed in touch and arranged school French exchanges and family holidays in France as often as she could.

In Cumbria, Linda found like-minded people in the U3A, and set up and ran French groups which she found very rewarding, having never really enjoyed teaching in schools.

She kept herself fit and enjoyed all sorts of sports, including playing hockey and tennis in her younger days, keeping fit through yoga and latterly badminton with the U3A.

Linda was a keen gardener and spent many happy hours in her garden at Stoney Green and sung in a local choir. There was always a strong artistic streak running through her family (her father was an artist) and she continued to sketch and paint watercolours throughout her life. She also read regularly for the Eden District Talking Newspaper.

In 2008, John Robinson, Linda’s partner, died suddenly of a heart attack. Linda was badly affected by this loss as she had found much happiness with John. She was then diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2013. The following year, her daughter returned from living overseas to support her, and in November that year it became clear that her illness meant she needed the support of a care home, and she moved into Croft Avenue, Penrith.

The staff there became very fond of Linda and provided her with the best possible care. She also benefited from the activities of Gaudium, a Penrith-based organisation which supports dementia sufferers, and they reignited her childhood passion for horses by taking her to the Happy Hooves stables in Eamont Bridge and even helping her to ride a pony. She also attended the Alzheimer’s Society’s Singing for the Brain scheme in Penrith where her love of music and singing shone through.

Last year, as her illness became more advanced, she needed more expert care and she moved to Oak House care home in Slough, closer to where her daughter Karen lives. Again, the staff became very fond of Linda, whose character and sense of humour stayed with her despite her dementia.

After a short stay in hospital following a fall at the end of June, Linda died earlier this month at the care home. She will be greatly missed by her son and daughter and her brothers Philip and Stephen.

Her wish was to be cremated and her family will scatter her ashes in the Eden Valley — the place she loved and made her home.