Just over a year after the tragic passing of wife Laura, Gloucestershire man Tom Smith and his daughters Rosie and Clara continue to rebuild from their heartbreaking loss with the support of the Professional Cricketers’ Trust.
After fighting Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (a rare chronic liver disease) and bile-duct cancer for 18 months, Laura lost her courageous battle in August 2018. The players’ charity supported the Smith family both before and after that time, providing specialist assistance including a nanny, which allowed Tom to continue following his dream of playing professional cricket.
Smith bravely chose to reveal his story to the Trust in August 2019, which led to an outpouring of support from both the world of cricket and the general public alike. It’s a decision he doesn’t regret, since Smith feels that telling his story in an honest way has helped him and his family to cope better with the bereavement process.
“Telling my story has been an extremely positive experience. It seems to have touched a lot of people who have also experienced bereavement, many of whom have reached out to me over the past few months.
“I also think that getting my story out there and increasing people’s understanding of what I’ve been through has helped to remove some of the awkwardness around bereavement. It’s given me a bit more confidence to discuss it with people and I hope it will inspire people to reach out to charities like the Trust if they ever find themselves needing to.
“To be honest, I didn’t really understand what the Trust was about when I was a young player, so I hope this experience will help to give PCA members a better idea of the services that are there for them to fall back on, should they find themselves in a similar situation.
2019 proved to be a gruelling domestic season for Smith – he admits he has played more cricket in recent times than at any other point in his career. Moving into the off-season has required some adjustment, but the 32-year-old has been delighted to enjoy more family time.
“It’s been a much-needed break. Being a single parent and managing the children whilst playing professional cricket became a different challenge in itself.
“It’s nice to spend some time with the family – we’ve already been away to Peppa Pig World and we had some great fun over the holidays.”
Although he was aching after a long season with Gloucestershire, Smith elected to spend a weekend of his free time taking on the Three Peaks Challenge in October 2019.
The charity challenge saw 50 fundraisers take on three of Britain’s highest peaks in the space of three days, all in order to raise valuable funds for two sporting charities in the Trust and the Tom Maynard Trust.
Smith was joined by his great friends Ben Brown and Ollie Rayner on the challenge and, although the group encountered some of the toughest conditions imaginable, he didn’t find it hard to find motivation to complete the hike.
“Revealing my story really helped with fundraising for the Three Peaks, and certainly spurred my friends on to join me during the challenge.
“Myself and Ben Brown were definitely underprepared. We had a realisation in Fort William that the weather was going to be awful and we didn’t have the greatest kit.
“We definitely got a bit of a fright – it was brutal up there. However, it’s good that it was a proper challenge – we definitely earned our sponsorship and were all delighted to finish the weekend on Snowdon.”