It is with much sadness we must report that Jan Urban Smith died on Saturday May 25th 2013 after a long and courageous battle with cancer.
Jan was a trustee of the Trust for ten years; she attended her last meeting in November 2012 when she was as astute, thoughtful and funny as ever. The following spring Jan retired and in spite of her obvious frailty, we all had a very happy lunch to celebrate her tenure as a trustee. In her typically generous spirited way she gave each one of us a camellia tree which will help us to keep her memory alive.
Jan had lived in Gloucestershire for nearly 40 years. Her career in education as a teacher, deputy headmistress and in the LEA gave her a deep insight and passion for education in all its forms which helped the trustees enormously when having to make decisions about requests for funding. Jan was an extremely dedicated trustee; she rarely missed a meeting and was always keen to visit charities. I remember her listening intently to the clients of the Nelson Trust while they were explaining the difficulties of starting life after prison. Jamila Gavin remembers going to Gymnation in Gloucester with her and being so impressed with the gym classes for Muslim women. James Millar remembers her huge stoicism when we all climbed up Gloucester Cathedral’s clock tower, which she insisted on doing in spite of her poor health. Her enthusiasm for projects, even the more eccentric ones was always evident; and her opinions were pertinent and frequently persuasive. As Edward Gillespie remembers: “time and again, Jan's thoughts on applications were totally opposite to my own, proving the value of bringing together people with brains and experience of such contrast”.
Jan was elegant and charismatic and we all have a very fond memory of her sitting next to Oleg Gordievsky, the Russian spy who gave the Summerfield lecture at the Cheltenham Festival in 2009, and charming him to the extent that he refused to speak to anyone else but her.
The trustees have decided to sponsor the Jan Urban Smith debate at the Cheltenham Literature Festival on October 12th in which leading authors will discuss the books that have shaped their lives.
Jan was a truly inspirational person, even in recent weeks her zest for life was unquenchable. The county has benefitted immeasurably from her time as a trustee of the Summerfield Trust, her wisdom will be sorely missed.