Basil Smith is no stranger to adventure. The 101-year-old from Llanelli has travelled extensively, played tennis to professional level and to this day, continues to play the game he loves – and he’s even been featured on S4C and Radio Cymru for his exploits.
Now Basil is in the middle of another enterprise – selling copies of his autobiography ‘A Centenarian Reflects’ which he wrote and published last year and which he hopes will raise in excess of £1,500 for Tŷ Hafan.
Says Basil: “I’ve been very lucky in my life and I have had a good life. But in 2013 my wife had major stroke and just three days later, I had an operation to remove a tumour at Morriston Hospital. I was very fortunate, as I didn’t have to have chemotherapy or radiotherapy at all. I was 92 then and what happened that year made me think about my health and how lucky I have been throughout my life.”
Also in 2013 Basil was thrilled to become great-great-uncle to twins Besi and Alfi, but joy turned to sadness when little Alfi was diagnosed with Neonatal Marfan Syndrome.
Referred to Tŷ Hafan, Besi and Alfi, together with mum Sara and dad Jason, spent a very happy weekend at the hospice around Christmas 2014.
Sadly, just a few months after their stay, little Alfi passed away on St David’s Day, his parents’ wedding anniversary.
Sara, a pastoral officer, from Ammanford, says: “The twins are eight now and will be nine-years-old on May 1. They were very, very wanted and very longed for. We had had nine rounds of fertility treatments to have them.
“We sadly lost Alfi when he was 22-months-old.
“This sums up how we feel as a family: ‘With all that we have been through, all the hurt and all the pain, and all the struggles that have come as a result of losing you, we’re still forever grateful that we had you Alfs.’
“Even though we only got to stay at Tŷ Hafan the one time as the four of us, that visit was very special because we could relax a little, knowing that all Alfi’s care needs were catered for. The responsibility for his care needs wasn’t just down to us for that period of time so we could just be mum and dad to the both of them.
“Tŷ Hafan has been brilliant to us ever since and we always go there on the anniversary of Alfi’s passing to spend time there and remember him.
“Basil is an amazing gentleman. We’re very grateful to him for doing what he is doing for Tŷ Hafan. He’s been everywhere and done everything and he is a real character.”
Basil’s sister-in-law, Eira, grandmother to Sara adds: “Alfi, Besi, Sara and Jason had wonderful time at Tŷ Hafan and it is a very special Welsh charity for children in Wales.
“My brother-in-law Basil supports a lot of charities and wanted to do this one for Tŷ Hafan which I think is absolutely marvellous.”
Basil, who grew up in Llandeilo, had 170 copies printed and has already sold 120 copies. Now he is hoping to sell the final 50.
“I hope people throughout Wales will support Tŷ Hafan by buying my book and in lots of other ways,” says Basil. “There are so many illnesses out there and so many children that need their help.”