Cowley car worker Jeff Samways lived life with MS

Jeff Samways, who has died aged 70, was a well-known marathon runner, football referee and Cowley car worker. In later life, he developed multiple sclerosis and despite increasing disability, raised thousands of pounds to help fellow sufferers. He was running in the 1992 Abingdon Marathon when he first experienced signs of MS.

He later recalled: “I crossed the finishing line limping. “I ran marathons and half marathons all the time back then and just thought it was an injury, but I went to get it checked out and the doctors told me I had MS. Read again: Oxford University helps to identify Covid variants

“I had caught the bus to the Radcliffe Infirmary in Oxford for my appointment and coming back I just remember being absolutely stunned and shocked. “There was a lady I knew who lived locally with MS and I went to see her to see what I was in for. “Right there and then, I decided I was going to have to tackle this disease head-on.”

He was working on the production line at the Cowley Rover factory at the time. As his condition worsened, fellow workers made him a battery-driven truck, with the registration plate, JEFF1, to allow him to get around the plant.

He later moved into the offices and was forced to give up work completely when he became too immobile, ending a 30-year career at the factory. By then, he had turned his attention to the Multiple Sclerosis Society and had become fundraiser for the Oxford and district branch, organising regular collections and other events to boost funds for MS research and to help others with MS. In his younger days, he was a referee and linesman at local football matches and was a lifelong supporter of Manchester City.

Earlier this year, he received a letter from club goalkeeper Ederson Moraes and a signed photograph thanking him for his “lifetime of support”. The Brazilian player wrote: “From all of us at Manchester City, we would like to thank you for being a truly dedicated fan.” In an interview with the Oxford Mail in 2014, Mr Samways said: “After my first marriage ended, I met my second wife Tracey, and she has helped me get through some of the worst times.

“Looking back, I do not think I have ever asked: ‘Why me?’ I’ve always thought I was glad I got MS rather than one of my brothers or my sister.” Mr Samways, who had moved from his home in Botley to the Chawley Grove care home at Cumnor Hill, leaves his wife Tracey, and two sons, Joe and Tim, and daughter Alice from his marriage to his first wife, Pam. Son Joe said of his father: “When life knocked him down, he got back up every time and to me, was a real-life hero.

“Always helping others and working hard, he never stopped smiling and cracking jokes.”

The funeral will be at South Oxfordshire Crematorium at Garford, near Abingdon, on Thursday, September 30 at 10am.