The mother of Olympic athlete Steven Lewis has died following a short battle with cancer.
Linda Lewis passed away surrounded by her family at the Douglas Macmillan Hospice in Blurton.
Pole-vaulter Steven, of Light Oaks, revealed last month how the 57-year-old had at first battled her illness in secret while he competed in the Olympic Games, in London.
Today Steven, who jumped 5.75 metres to finish fifth in the Olympic final, paid tribute to his mother, describing her as ‘the very centre of the family’.
The 26-year-old said: “Mum was the glue that always kept the family together. She would do anything to help us, in any way – emotionally, physically, mentally.
“She was a rock. We look back through our photos and memories and, although she was very understated and didn’t want to be noticed, she was a huge presence.
“I think that’s what has driven me and my brother to be successful.”
Linda had vowed to fight the disease, which affected her liver and stomach, but deteriorated suddenly in her final hours.
She died on Monday night, the day after she and her husband Martin had celebrated their 35th wedding anniversary.
Steven, who is currently based in Cardiff, travelled to be at her bedside along with his 29-year-old brother Simon, a businessman.
Steven said: “It was clear that she was fighting to see all of us all together. I didn’t realise that at first when I walked in.
“I asked her how she was doing and she would usually be so positive and upbeat. But she just said ‘I’m not doing too well’.
“We had a chat and the whole family had a chat, and then a nurse took us to one side and said they were going to give her an injection to relax her breathing.”
Steven’s dad Martin said: “It was a very peaceful time for us. We spoke about the memories and the good times we had.
“She was the best wife and mum a man could ask for. She never wanted to be the centre of attention and always put everybody else first. Although I’ve lost my wife, I’ve had the best 43 years. She gave me two sons, who are just unbelievable.”
The family also heaped praise on the Douglas Macmillan Hospice, above, and said the facility brought them immense comfort during Linda’s final days.
Steven, who is the British pole vaulting record holder after he jumped 5.82 metres earlier in the year, said he now plans to adopt the Dougie Mac as his chosen charity.
The former Holden Lane High School pupil said: “Our big message that we want to get across is that not only was mum someone who will never be forgotten, but for people to understand there are some amazing things happening at the hospice.
“As an athlete, with the privileges I am lucky to have, I will never stop doing everything I can to help the Douglas Macmillan.”
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