Rachel Smith has been named Yorkshire’s Inspirational Individual of the Year

Rachel with fellow Trustees Ryan Jepson and Aimee Haggas
Rachel with fellow Trustees Ryan Jepson and Aimee Haggas

Rachel Smith, whose husband Nick died last December aged 38 from Motor Neurone Disease (MND), has been named as the Inspirational Individual of the Year in the Yorkshire Choice Awards 2019.

At Saturday night’s award ceremony at Elland Road in Leeds, Rachel was revealed to have received the most votes of the over 30 people nominated in the category and was presented with the title.

As well as spending the past year dealing with her grief and supporting her two children through their loss, 38-year old Rachel, from Halifax, set up a charity in memory of Nick earlier to ensure he has a lasting legacy.

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The Nick Smith Foundation, launched in May, has already raised tens of thousands of pounds for its three aims – supporting research into MND, helping children who suffer the death of a parent at a young age and encouraging more children to take up rugby league.

Speaking about her win, Rachel said: "I’m shocked and overwhelmed to win this award when so many worthy individuals from across Yorkshire had been nominated.

“Thank you to everyone who took the time to vote for me, I am humbled by your support.

“This award recognises all the efforts of every single person, group and organisation who has supported The Nick Smith Foundation over the past year, and for everyone who has worked so hard to ensure Nick has a lasting legacy.

"I, as Hadyn and Georgia, as we all, miss Nick every day. I am dedicating this award to the person who continues to give me the strength, through his love, his children, his memories and his example to keep going each and every day. My inspiration, my husband, Nick.”​

Stephen Naylor, Chair of the Nick Smith Foundation, said: "I am incredibly proud of my sister-in-law. We have achieved so much in this past 12 months as a charity and Rachel has been determined to ensure Nick’s legacy lives on in a way that celebrates and remembers the amazing man he was. This award is a testament to her determination and strength at a time when few would have had the courage she has."

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Rachel wasn't the only inspirational Calderdale winner at the awards ceremony.

Nicky Chance-Thompson, Chief Executive of The Piece Hall Trust, was named Business Woman of the Year and Piece Hall business Loafers was awarded New Starter Business of the Year.

The Yorkshire Choice Awards celebrate inspirational businesses, organisations and individuals from across the region. More details can be found at www.yorkshirechoiceawards.co.uk