THE husband of a fund-raiser and Olympic torchbearer who died after a long battle with cancer has paid a moving tribute to his wife of almost 30 years.
Martin Cleaver said he would remember Helen Cleaver for her “beaming smile”, as well as her many other attributes.
Mrs Cleaver, of Little Witley, who raised thousands of pounds for cancer charities and carried the Olympic torch through Stratford in July, died last Friday.
She grew up on a farm near Chaddesley Corbett, which was where she developed her love of horses and became involved in pony club events, as well as riding with the local hunt and being a key player in Kidderminster Young Farmers.
The 52-year-old attended Kidderminster Convent before going on to pursue another passion for horticulture.
She gained an ordinary national diploma from Pershore College and it was during her studies that she met the man who would become her husband.
After a couple of years together, Mr and Mrs Cleaver tied the knot at St Cassion’s Church on July 27, 1985 and later set up home together in Little Witley.
Mrs Cleaver’s fascination for growing fruit and vegetables would see her take a job with Richard Colwill and Sons, where she would continue working for almost 30 years.
She even cycled part of the way to work when she could no longer drive because of her cancer.
Mr Cleaver, a gardener at Malvern College, said the couple both enjoyed the great outdoors, often going on walking holidays together with their dogs.
Mrs Cleaver also had a fascination with maps and they had shared interests including vintage tractors, the music of Kathrine Jenkins and dragon boating.
Mrs Cleaver was a founder member of the Worcester Busters dragon boat team for cancer survivors and supporters, and represented Great Britain at a senior level, winning a bronze and a silver medal in the 2010 European championships.
The couple were also part of the Worcester Busters team that took part in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Thames Pageant and Mr Cleaver escorted his wife on her leg of the Olympic torch relay.
Mr Cleaver said losing his wife had been a “devastating blow”, but 2012 had been “Helen’s year” and he would treasure the memories of their time together.
He said he had been “overwhelmed” by the messages of support and condolence he had received from Mrs Cleaver’s many friends.
“She touched the hearts and souls of so many people in Worcestershire and beyond. The eternal flame of the torch she was carrying that day, it didn’t go out and never will the memories of Helen ever go out. “And I feel she’s left her legacy for all of us. “She was the most extraordinary person and I feel so lucky and privileged to have been part of her life. “She wanted me to pick things up in my own time and get on with life and that’s what I fully intend to do. “She’s gone but in a way she hasn’t. “She’s keeping an eye on me and an eye on everyone else. “I shall never forget that beaming smile of Helen and that’s how I’d like people to remember Helen – that beaming smile. “And like me, I know they’ll have many memories of Helen – our Helen.”
The funeral will take place on Monday, January 28, at St Cassion’s Church, Chaddesley Corbett, at 2pm.