After the long-delayed inquest opened yesterday into the deaths of seven passengers on a Croydon tram in a derailment at Sandilands in November 2016, today was spent with family members of those who died reading prepared statements – pen portraits – to described their lost loved ones.
Jean Smith read the pen portrait of her son, Mark Smith
Trying to fit a pen portrait onto an A4 piece of paper in no way does any justice to the life and character of Mark Smith. A 35-year-old vibrant young man who had so much more to give in life. But, give this portrait I must.
Our son, Mark Colin Alexander Smith was born on a Tuesday morning at 10 past 10 on the 13th October 1981, weighing in at 6 pounds 15 ounces. First-born and only son of Colin and Jean Smith. Mark went to Waddon Infants, Parish Church Juniors and Thomas More Secondary schools, all in the Borough of Croydon. He left school after the completion of his GCSEs and then went on to Coulsdon College where for two years he studied art, design and photography.
Mark started his working life around 17 or 18 years old with a weekend job at B&Q. He then went on to full-time employment working in a call centre. After two years he decided it was time to become self-employed and work beside his father installing doors, windows, curtain walling, conservatories, soffits, fascias and guttering. Eventually going on to installing more specialised glass work for a company called IPIG (Inspiring Projects Involving Glass) based in Glasgow, where he and his father worked on such projects as The Hive, at a world exhibition in Milan and the Richard III Centre in Leicester. Mark was a dedicated, reliable, responsible, respectful, honest and trustworthy young man. He was on his way to an IPIG project in St James’s Park, London on the morning of Wednesday 9th November 2016.
Mark was very particular about the way he looked and was a keen gym user and as one of his friend’s said, “Mark would spend the first half-hour going round the gym saying hello to everyone. Then half hour doing a workout, then the last half hour going around saying goodbye to everyone.” It was at the gym that Mark met his fiancée Indre. Indre and Mark started dating in 2011 and got engaged in July 2014. They had planned to get married on a beach in Mexico in 2017. On a Monday afternoon at 5.45pm on 27th April 2015 Mark and Indre were blessed with a beautiful 8lb 2oz baby boy, naming him Lucas Colin Smith. It was the proudest moment of Mark’s life. Lucas is five years old now and too young to remember his father who was killed when Lucas was just 18 months old.
One of Mark’s passions was his car. He bought his first car at age 19 and he and his many like-minded friends spent many hours and lots of money continually modifying their motors, usually the bodywork and the sound systems. He helped set up a car club, naming it “Xclusive 2 Cruising” where he played a major role in organising for himself and the many friends he made to enter car shows at places like Donnington. It was here that he won a lot of awards for best car and best sound system. All those awards that are now collecting dust!
From the age of three, Mark was introduced to his father’s passion of fishing, which was the hobby that continued to take up most of Mark’s free time. He would source most of the lakes in France and again play a major role in organising the many trips that he, his father and many of their like-minded friends went on. He also created a fishing blog “X2C Carping” which was followed by many and he liked to keep it updated, and where he also edited long videos himself and where his photographic skills would usually do him proud.
Mark was very popular, as a boy and also as a man. He found it easy to make friends all through his life. No matter their race or background everyone liked Mark. He was a good talker, a good listener and a good mediator. He was a warm person with a ready smile and a unique laugh. He was loyal, honest, reliable, loving, compassionate, considerate and passionate, and he also swore like a trooper. He was a hard-working, proud and loving father, son, fiance, brother, nephew and cousin and a true and loyal friend. He and his father were soul twins and he was more than very close to his mother and his sister Stacey.
Over 700 people came to Mark’s funeral, with both family and friends travelling from as far as America, Australia, Ireland and Lithuania. That shows just how well regarded and much loved he was.
Mark touched many lives in his short life and he continues to influence them in so many good ways, as his friends constantly tell me and it’s likely that he will continue to do so, this is the legacy of Mark and his character .
There was no one like Mark and there never will be!
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