Former British olympian Helen Smart has passed away at age 42 in what friends and family called a “sudden death.” Smart, who was an elite swimmer for the British National Team, retired and became a teacher at Worsley Mesnes Community Primary School in Wigan, England, when her competitive career was over.
While the cause of death is not immediately known, it is clear through testimony from friends, family, and colleagues that Smart was a woman who brought tremendous value to her community. Craig Smart, Helen’s husband spoke to the Evening Standard about his wife’s passing.
Craig said, “She loved the school, staff, children and parents so much. She was so proud to reach her goal of being headteacher. She used to say to me all the time she could never see herself at another school. She was Worsley Mesnes through and through!”
“I remember only last week she said her goal was to get the school to outstanding and that she had the right staff to achieve this. I hope you all keep learning like champions. Please learn from this and live your best life, no regrets.”
Katy Sexton, who swam alongside Smart on Team Britain, offered some words to British Swimming. “I’ve been trying to find the words to say about this but am so shocked by the news, I don’t know what to say,” Sexton said, “Helen was such a vibrant character, always happy and a great friend and roommate. She was such a dedicated athlete and had an amazing work ethic which she carried into her life outside of sport. She will be greatly missed and my biggest sympathies go to her family.”
Sarah Ruckwood, another of Smart’s fellow competitors, shared her memories as well. “I am so grateful for all the memories we had together travelling the world, where we spent so much time training and racing. I had the utmost respect and admiration for DD as a swimmer and friend.”
“I remember Helen most though as someone who would always brighten a room when she walked in it and her infectious laugh would bring a smile to everyone,” Ruckwood added. ” It is no surprise that she went on from swimming to become a primary school headteacher working with and inspiring all around her.”
Worsley Mesnes Community Primary School board of governors member Alison Halliwell also shared a statement regarding the passing of Smart. “It is with great sadness and regret that I have to announce the sudden death of our beloved headteacher, Mrs. Helen Smart. Our heartfelt condolences are sent to Helen’s family at this very difficult time. I know this news will be a shock and cause great sadness to our community.”
“I want to reassure you that the governors of Worsley Mesnes School are working with the local authority and school to ensure that our children, staff and parents will receive the necessary support in the coming weeks.”
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