Cherry Vinodini Smith, Co-Founder Run and Become Become and Run
8.8.1942 - 14.1.2020
When Run and Become first opened its doors in June 1982 it was thanks to three people: Sri Chinmoy provided the inspiration and encouragement (plus our wonderful name); Tony did the research and the legwork to find the premises and get the shop stocked; Cherry brought the care, hard work, belief and love. We are proud today that Run and Become still reflects the gifts all three provided. So it is with gratitude and tears that we mark the passing of the last surviving member of this trio: Cherry Smith.
After Cherry retired, aged 70, we’d frequently have the following phone conversation with customers:
Hello, Run and Become, how can I help?
Hi, I want to come down for a shoe fitting this week, what days will Cherry be in?
Erm, I’m afraid she’s taken retirement but I’m sure one of us can help you.
Oh. (silence) Are you sure she doesn’t come in anymore? I’ve only ever been served by Cherry and I’ve been coming for years.
I’m sorry, but she’s had to retire due to health concerns.
Oh, I’m sorry to hear that. Well, I guess you’ll have to do.
When Cherry’s customers would come in, we’d do our best to please them but the inference was you’re okay but you’re not as good as Cherry. We were never offended, we knew what they meant.
Cherry didn’t care who you were – didn’t care how famous you were or what your job was, what kind of runner you were – everyone was treated the same. That is to say, like one of her children. I’ll never forget the time Simon le Bon came in, sporting sunglasses and looking achingly cool. Cherry started to serve him but moments in said: ‘Take those sunglasses off, how can I communicate with you if I can’t see you?’ He smiled sheepishly and obliged.
Love, care and an incredible instinct for what was causing injury / holding a runner back from achieving their goals meant that her reputation grew from our first shop on Palmer Street. Thanks to Cherry, we started to get referrals from Doctors and Osteopaths and Podiatrists all round London: go see Cherry at Run and Become, she’ll sort you out. There was even one instance when a Harley Street Doctor told his patient: I don’t know what’s causing your injury, go and speak to Cherry, she’ll know what shoe will protect you – and she did!
It always tickled her husband (Tony) that our best shoe expert never ran a jot in her life. Running was Tony’s passion, it was not shared by his wife. Cherry was always fit, mostly from running around after her kids and her customers, but running? You must be joking. Did it make a difference to her ability to empathise with runners? Of course not. After Tony passed in 2006, Cherry cut her hours to serving at our busiest times. She loved watching the youngsters who made up our team, helping them with their customers and providing sage advice for their personal lives. They all adored her; their work Mum.
In those latter years it was always sweet to watch her approach a new customer, often seeing his face ever so slightly drop when he realised he wasn’t getting one of the younger/sportier looking staff. We’d hear her instantly respond impishly with, ‘Oh, poor you, you get the old woman!’ And then notice how within minutes the customer realised he’d got the best member of the team and was happy as punch!
In the formative years of Run and Become, Cherry juggled working at the shop with bringing up my sister and I, and she seemed to be everywhere at once. Her motivation for both shop and children was the same: care and service. She wanted to be the best Mother (she was!) and she wanted to help as many runners as she could (she did!).
On a personal note, Dipika and I would like to offer thanks to both our parents and to Sri Chinmoy for always encouraging us and trusting us to lead Run and Become forward. We learned from the best.
We will miss Cherry but her spirit will always remain in Run and Become.
Shankara and Dipika
Cherry’s funeral service will be held at Mortlake crematorium: Thursday 13th February 10:40.