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Tribute to long-serving volunteer Ann Smith

Main image: Ann with a photo of herself in an art exhibition at Filwood Community Centre.

Tributes have been pouring in for Ann Smith – one of the area’s long-serving volunteers who died recently at the age of 81.

Ann moved to Bristol from Wales at the age of 15 and to Knowle West in 1960 with her husband Ron and they had seven children. After she became a widow and with her children grown, she started volunteering in the area.

She was on the board of Community in Partnership (CIP) for around 13 years, where she was Vice Chair for about eight years. She continued to serve as a trustee when it became CIPKW in 2019 until her death.

Ann in 2013 with former Mayor of Bristol George Ferguson showing him the area when he visited Knowle West.

CIPKW Chair Tim Jones says: “She was always a cheerful lady, very supportive of the Filwood Centre, and determined to preserve it. When there was talk of demolishing it her response was, ‘I’ll chain myself to the railings!’

“…In recent years her health prevented her from attending evening meetings, but she continued as an organiser of the Friendship Group right up to the lockdown.”

Centre Manager at Filwood Community Centre June McNeill adds: “…She was so lovely, always smiling and up for a joke, always supportive to us on-site – loved the community she lived in and the groups she helped run. She will be so missed by us all.”

Rhiannon Lowes from Knowle West Health Association which runs the Friendship Group says Ann was a member of the steering group which met to discuss what members wanted, such as trips and Christmas plans.

She says: “…Ann would help to arrange the trips away each year as well as some spending money for fish and chips. She was very organised and was a big part of the group’s success over the years. It will be strange not to see her face in the office bringing in the trip money etc.”

Close friend Denise Britt says: “Ann loved doing the small grants (from Neighbourhood Renewal money) and giving money to groups. She also loved doing the Neighbourhood Partnership meetings and she also loved playing bingo in the clubs around Knowle West. She loved going to Weymouth and staying in the caravan and we loved going on day trips to West Bay and Portland…”

Ann was a member of the local Knowledge Newsletter steering group until 2019 – starting from its creation in the early 2000s when it was a CIP newsletter under a different name.

The group met to discuss the content of each edition and to look at the design – and Ann’s input was invaluable as she always knew what was going on in the area.

She was also a regular visitor to Knowle West Media Centre (KWMC) and a keen contributor to the organisation’s energy and health projects and the University of Local Knowledge.

CEO Carolyn Hassan says: “…She was always generous with her time, sharing her views and ideas and supporting others to participate. On behalf of all of us who have worked with her from KWMC we send our condolences to her family and friends. She will be sadly missed.”

Ann receiving the People’s Choice at the Hearts and Stars award ceremony from Filwood Community Centre Manager June McNeill.

In 2018 Ann was given the People’s Choice at the Hearts and Stars Awards, which celebrate the achievements of local volunteers, for her many years of contribution to the community.