Tributes have been paid to one of Worksop’s well known characters who bravely struggled with schizophrenia before he passed away aged 70.
Keith Smith, who had become a celebrated personality in the community, died suddenly when he collapsed while out walking.
A service of Thanksgiving was recently held at the Crossing Church for the quirky “gentle giant”, who “loved to stop and talk” in the town and was often seen walking very slowly carrying the same carrier bag.
Some residents called him “the teddy bear man” as he would take his teddy bear out with him wherever he went, sitting it next to him if he visited a cafe.
Despite Keith’s worries that nobody would attend his funeral- he “offered to pay each of his friends a tenner” if they promised to show up- dozens turned out to pay their respects to the popular pensioner.
At the service, Reverend Geoffrey Clarke described Keith’s “wry sense of humour” and “kind and compassionate” nature.
Born in 1945, he grew up on Carlton Road and attended Stanley Street School before progressing on to a grammar school in Retford and finally The University of Birmingham to study maths.
Keith, a devout Christian, was highly intelligent and ambitious- but was diagnosed with schizophrenia in his early twenties which went on to affect him for the rest of his life.
He was sent home from University and lived in Worksop for the rest of his days while receiving care, most recently in sheltered accommodation at Abbey Grove.
His nephew, Steven Smith, spoke out against funding cuts to the county’s mental health services such as Pathways and Boundaries, both of which played a part in Keith’s care.
Steven said: “My uncle was a high achiever who could have gone on to accomplish many things, but was unable to due to his schizophrenia.
“More needs to be done to raise awareness of mental illnesses so these cuts can be reversed and people like him can access the care they need.”
£1,000 of Keith’s savings were donated to The Crossing church and Abbey Grove Care Home.
Anyone wishing to make a donation his his memory can do so to the above or Bassetlaw MIND mental healthy charity.
NWGU-03-06-16: Keith was rarely seen without his pipe and tobacco.
nwgu keith smith ra 1: Dozens turned out to pay their respects The Crossing church.
nwgu keith smith ra3: Reverend Geoffrey Clarke shares memories of Keith at the service.
nwgu keith smith ra6: Keith had become a well known character in the toewn thanks to his quirky personality and caring nature.