FORMER Devizes schoolboy Ed Smith is to take part in a challenge billed as the world’s toughest row in memory of his wife Anna who died from cancer just days after their marriage when their daughter Alba was still a baby.

Mr Smith, 35, who grew up in Devizes and was a pupil at Devizes School and played rugby and cricket for the town’s teams, is part of at four man crew that will take on the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge 2021.

Former police officer Mr Smith and his team of friends Rob Murray, Adam Green and Jack Biss will be raising money for the charity Victoria’s Promise which helped his family during his wife’s illness.

He said: “They supported my wife, Anna, and our daughter Alba, who was six months old at the time of Anna’s diagnosis in June 2017, and me. Anna tragically passed away in June 2018. The support Victoria’s Promise gave to my family was just incredible and they made such a difference to Anna during her treatment.”

His wife believed in the charity’s ethos of everyone following their dreams but she did not want him to take on the dangerous rowing race.

He said: “We discussed it before she died and she didn’t want me to do it. But despite that I felt I had to because doing this sort of thing is what she was all about.”

Anna was diagnosed with bowel cancer soon after Alba was born and the couple married just days before she died as her condition deteriorated.

Mr Smith said: “Our team Anna Victorious want to continue where Anna left off and continue to inspire and empower people to live life. I want to prove to my daughter Alba that anything is possible. One of the last things Anna said to me before she passed away was ‘Tell Alba she can do whatever she wants’.”

In May Mr Smith gave up his job as a counter terrorism fire-arms officer to work as fundraising manager for the charity.

Mr Smith, who now lives in Berkshire, is being supported by his parents Andy and Sarah Smith, who still live in Devizes, as he prepares for the challenge that will see the Anna Victorious team row over 3000 nautical miles from the Canary Islands to Antigua non-stop carrying provisions for two months.., anticipating waves of up to 20ft and they will have to carry enough provisions to last over two months.

Mr Smith said: “Getting to the start line of the race will take a significant financial commitment and we need help from Devizes businesses.”We are looking for partners to provide sponsorship to get the boat across the second largest ocean on the planet.”

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