Tributes as popular Walsall pastor dies suddenly days after 63rd birthday

Tributes have poured in for a popular pastor who "put the community at the heart" of all he did.

Kevin Smith
Kevin Smith

Pastor Kevin Smith, of Place of Refuge Church in Walsall, died on January 16 just days after his 63rd birthday at Walsall Manor Hospital following a brief illness.

The father-of-two and his wife Denise spearheaded the independent ministry at the worship centre, in Talke Road, Delves, 13 years ago.

Known locally as 'Kev the Rev' he and his family set up community projects to tackle isolation and loneliness.

Mrs Smith, 61, a nurse, of Delves Crescent, said: "He was a lovely helpful gentle-spirited man. He grew up in the Goscote area and we met through our families. Our mothers had been school friends and both our dads were Jamaicans.

"With his passing as come overwhelming support from so many people, from the children he used to engage with to police officers. The community was at the heart of everything we did together.

"People referred to him as 'Kev the Rev'. He would have a banter with people he met in the street. He was loved by many. It's made me realise how much he touched people's lives."

The couple's twins Charlotte and Daniel, 31, both tied the knot last year and Mr Smith was looking forward to the birth of his first grandchild in the spring.

Kevin Smith with his daughter Charlotte

"As he passed away we were able to say our goodbyes. It hurt to see him go and although we love him, the Lord loves him more. As Christians we know that it isn't the end," she added.

Peter Buckley, former pastor at the town's Crescent Baptist Church, said: " We knew Kevin and Denise from the 90s. We developed a friendship with them both, meeting up for meals occasionally.

"So we saw that Kevin was a gentle, engaging man with a great love for the Lord and a strong desire to serve both God and man. My wife Ollie and I enjoyed being with him and had hoped to rekindle that friendship once again. That will have to wait until we also join him in the Great Assembly in heaven. We send our love and condolences to Denise and family."

Scores of well wishers have also posted messages of condolence on social media.

Denise Smith with husband Kevin in 2017

Aisha Khan posted: "Very sad news, my condolences to Denise and family, so very sorry for your loss."

Paul Sutton posted: "Kevin gave me the strength and inspiration to believe again. A truly special man. Thank you Pastor Kevin for all you have done for us all. We will miss you x."

Leah Annis Taylor posted: "Ur both such a big inspiration in our community. You both have big hearts. A true gent with a beaming smile. Love to you xx."

Martin Berry posted: "Can't believe I am reading this. Such sad news. Kevin was one of the good guys...RIP sir."

He was a non-executive member of social housing landlord WATMOS Community Homes, and previously served as a trainee minister at Delves Baptist Church, and George Road Baptist Church, in Erdington, after studying at Northern Baptist College.

In 2018 the couple were invited to a Buckingham Palace garden party for services to the community.

Mr Smith's thanksgiving service will be held on February 15 at Place of Refuge and will be streamed online.

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