Tributes paid to graduate who died following illness

Margaret Wallis, Roy Smith, his brother Michael, and
Margaret Wallis, Roy Smith, his brother Michael, and

A MATURE student who was awarded his degree only weeks ago died on Tuesday (August 13).

Roy Smith, who lived in Kennedy Court, Stonehouse Drive, St Leonards, passed away at St Michael’s Hospice, aged 55.

He had been diagnosed with terminal illness in March and told in April he had only months to live.

But Mr Smith did not let his poor health get in the way of his studies. Last month he was presented with an award by the University of Brighton given in memory of former student Della McKenzie for excelling in his applied social sciences BA (Hons) degree.

Mr Smith was one of more than 70 graduates from the University of Brighton campus in Hastings to celebrate their success at a ceremony last month.

His family said Mr Smith suffered from multiple tumours in his body, including his adrenal gland, as well as suffering from sarcoidosis, a disease that causes body cells to form into clumps in the body’s organs.

Mr Smith’s sister, Dawn Butler, who lives in Bournemouth, Dorset, said: “Roy worked so hard for his degree. When he was young he didn’t have the grounding and encouragement for a good education. He had chemotherapy but it affected him so badly he couldn’t eat. So he stopped it.”

Mr Smith was one of eight children who were placed in homes around the country as their mother could not cope raising a family, his sister added.

Mr Smith’s brother, Derek, said: “Roy knew that going to university was making him worse. But he carried on as best he could. He helped out a lot of people, who found themselves homeless, using drugs and were alcoholics.

“Because of our upbringing when we were very young, Roy believed in helping those who were brought up in similar positions.”

Margaret Wallis, campus director for the University of Brighton in Hastings, said “Roy was an outstanding student and an inspiration to others.

“He exerted great efforts to help fellow students who were experiencing problems in their personal lives and with their studies, as well as volunteering at a local drug rehabilitation charity. We were proud to present him with the Della Mackenzie Prize for achieving against the odds at his recent graduation ceremony. It has been a personal pleasure to have known Roy, and he will be missed greatly by staff and students.”

Mr Smith’s funeral takes place next Friday (August 23) at Hastings Crematorium at 10.15am.