Helen Smart, a renowned member of Britain’s Olympic swim team has died.
Known as Helen Don-Duncan before her marriage, Helen won silver medals at the World Championships and European Championships.
Following a notable swimming career, Helen become a dedicated teacher and eventually the headteacher at Worsley Mesnes Community Primary School in Wigan.
Her husband, Craig Smart, expressed his profound grief, recalling Helen’s immense love for her school, staff, students and parents.
He remembered her aspirations of elevating the school’s standards and her commitment to the institution. The Evening Standard reported 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!”
Fox News reported Craig added: “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.”
Alison Halliwell, the chair of governors at the school, confirmed Helen’s unexpected death and conveyed condolences to her family. The school community is in shock, and measures are being taken to support the students, staff, and parents during this challenging time.
“It is with great sadness and regret that I have to announce the sudden death of our beloved headteacher, Mrs. Helen Smart,” Halliwell said. “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.”
Halliwell added: “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.”
Several colleagues and friends, including Katy Sexton and Sarah Ruckwood, paid heartfelt tributes to Helen. They remembered her as a vibrant, dedicated athlete with an infectious laugh that could light up any room.
Helen’s achievements in swimming were notable. She clinched a silver medal in the 1998 European Championships for the 200-meter backstroke in Sheffield and repeated the feat in the 1999 World Championships in Hong Kong.
Additionally, she secured a bronze in the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur. Helen also participated in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, finishing 15th in the backstroke event.
Helen’s colleague Katy Sexton said: “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.”
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