Family's volunteer pledge to 'give something back' in daughter's memory

Lesley Smith began volunteering with EACH in memory of her daughter Katie

Lesley Smith pictured with her son Chris and husband Steve began volunteering with EACH in memory of her daughter Katie (inset). - Credit: Smith family

An Ipswich mum is marking five years of volunteering for the children’s hospice that cared for her late teenage daughter.   

Lesley Smith’s daughter, Katie, was diagnosed with a rare form of sarcoma - a type of cancer that starts in tissues like bone or muscle - when she was 16.

Katie was diagnosed less than a year before she died in September 2011, with the family receiving support from East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH). 

Katie in 2010 during her last family holiday before her diagnosis.

Katie in 2010 during her last family holiday before her diagnosis. - Credit: Smith family

Lesley recently received her five-year volunteering badge after wanting to “give something back” to the charity that supported her, her husband Steve and their son Chris during a very difficult time in their lives.   

“The staff looked after us superbly well and couldn’t have been more wonderful. EACH helped with the funeral arrangements and gave as much support as we needed, while also backing off and giving us space if we had something covered. There were lots of little things that made a big difference. They gave us so much.” said the 55-year-old.  

“It took me a while to feel ready and I needed time to grieve,” said Lesley. “Then I reached a point where it felt right to be positive and proactive and every time we volunteer we think of our daughter.”  

Chris, Lesley and Steve Smith

The Smith family wanted to give something back to EACH after the charity supported them during the diagnosis and after Katie's death. - Credit: Smith family

Lesley has helped in various ways, from collections and helping at carol concerts to manning stalls and marshalling at fundraisers including the Whole Hog and Piglet Junior Hog events.   

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Lesley, who lives in The Mills, in Rushmere St Andrew, said: “Even just helping once every six months makes a difference and takes some of the pressure off the regulars.”  

“It felt right to be positive and pro-active and every time we volunteer, we think of our daughter."

EACH is planning a packed and varied schedule of fundraising events this year, with highlights being the Ride for Life cycle challenge (6th to 8th May), the Bury St Edmunds Splash Out! on 15th May, the Piglet Junior Hog children’s obstacle course on 3rd July and the Whole Hog (the adult version) on 9th October.  

To find out more and register your interest in volunteering, head to