Piers Simon

28th May 1971 - December 26th 2004

On 26th December 2004, whilst on holiday with his brother Luke and three friends, Piers was tragically killed in the Indian Ocean Tsunami on the Island of Koh Phi Phi in Thailand,

Luke spent five days conducting the search for his brother along with help from family, friends and the media until they finally found Piers on the 31st December 2004.

Following a private funeral the Piers Simon Appeal was launched during Piers’ memorial service, held at Forde Abbey in Somerset on January 18th 2005 and   
charity status was granted by the charity commission on May 18th 2005.

 
















MEMORIAL SPEECH

Forde Abbey, January 2005

Memorial Speech – Forde Abbey, January 2005

A wonderful friend and work colleague sent me this touching message just after we had found Piers. It is simply titled 'Stars'.

"Perhaps they are not the stars, but rather openings in heaven where the love of our lost ones pours through and shines down upon us to let us know they are alright and to light the way for the rest of our lives".

I found this such a fitting tribute to Piers - it would appear that his role up in heaven will be the same role that he undertook for me, as his younger brother during our precious time together. He was my very own 'Guardian Angel' - right from day one, always there to illuminate the path for me and make sure that I settled into a new establishment with comfort protection and with an insight knowledge of how the system worked. I don't believe he was ever asked to do this - it was just his instinct - to care and to 'brother' his younger brother.

It is known that your character is deeply formed within the first six months of your life. How lucky we all are to have been enriched by the wonderful personality, which Piers possessed for the entirety of his 33 years. His was one that exemplified consistency - he rarely wavered from his natural inner ability to be kind and considerate to others. (Even now after I curse, I find myself thinking - Piers would not have said or done that).

As children, we were blessed with freedom and a sense of space courtesy of Home Farm. Seldom did we spend time indoors - the yard and the fields provided much more entertainment - a venue to hold numerous sporting activities, a race circuit for bicycles and motorbikes and a meeting point for the other children in the village. Our brotherhood very quickly moulded into a best friend status. The three year age difference was of course much more evident then. P was always the first to try something new; a higher diving board or a new sport and his natural ability to succeed at it gave his younger brother inspiration and a competitiveness to keep up. Where he was level and calm and persistent, I was stubborn and erratic. Nevertheless, with nagging encouragement from Dad, and a will to succeed from Piers, I got there in the end and our unity would gain another notch.

There were formal occasions too where our 'togetherness' was enhanced by Mum and her decision to put us in matching outfits. Piers' appearance was impeccable - top button done up, tie perfectly knotted and not a hair out of place. My appearance was always based on comfort, but P was always there to readjust and straighten out. In 1977 he earned the role as a Page Boy at a cousin's wedding where, as you can imagine he carried out his duties with a dignity and politeness that well excedded his 6 years of age. I spent the afternoon locked in the car -sadly throwing stones at my Aunties' wedding, earlier that year put an end to a potential double act.

P was persistent, very thorough, a born worrier and extremely conscientious in all he did. As a young boy I learned how to use this to my advantage - so concerned was he of being late for primary school he would clean my shoes and then even put them on my feet. Without any word of exaggeration - I must have been 7 years old before I was told "learn to tie your own laces" by Dad though, not P.

He would spend a great deal of time pushing a subject matter around, (or 'faffing' as I used to call it), be it on school homework, a college assignment, a sketch of a make believe landscape, or the choice of a new second hand car. To watch this process was intriguing; with furrowed brow and concern etched on his face, he would hone in on the finest of detail. Then, when the matter had been considered and then reconsidered generating endless notes, the furrows would eventually lift and he would relax, satisfied, that the problem and his mind were at ease.

Amongst such a process tho, there was always an over riding passion for everything, he did and chose to do....... and with this formula, he would strive to excel: Little wonder then, that he would be my role model and like a magnet I was drawn to the very things in his life that he achieved. For if Pierswas consistent, he was consistently good and the lure that he cast out in his everyday life was for me, always an attractive one. Clubs and teams at school and Yeovil College, a 'gap' year, Landscape Architecture at Cheltenham and then working with Simon Johnson were all organizations or events that I followed courtesy of P. As I mentioned before, he was my Guardian Angel and I trod his well-worn illuminated path in the knowledge that I too would revel in each environment as much as he had done so himself.

Our ‘twin-like’ status continued well into our later life although the 3-year age gap diminished and (without help from Mum this time) we still paraded around in similar appearance. Not planned by any degree, we would often meet up during a University holiday and discover we had purchased the same shirt or music album. I did my best to break the cycle - hairstyles and colours would change and beards would come and go (no comments please), but not P – he knew what he liked and he rarely strayed from it. Our bond extended past the superficial external elements deep into our internal psyches. Rather spookily, when we met up in Goa, India last December after exactly 11 months apart we found we were reading the same book and we were almost on the same page.

An aspect I love about family life is the handing down of personal traits from generation to generation and we were both fortunate to inherit from our beloved Grandfathers. Grandpa Simon had a wonderful sense of mystery to him, combined with an ability to dither just before he was due to leave the house, consequently making him late. Grandpa Marsh would give everybody a nickname. Piers certainly acquired a secretive nature; often a story would be exposed months down the line coming third hand from an eventual source. We referred to him as a ‘dark horse’ and like the mascot of the well-known bank the nickname ‘Lloyd’ was coined.

The response following his leaving us has highlighted just how much (Lloyd), sorry Piers touched people in their respective lives. We as a family have a lifetime of memories to relay repeatedly in our minds and have shared yours and others thru the staggering amount of cards and letters we have received. This particular letter made us cry, not with sadness but with laughter and I would like to share it with you all.

*************************************
Dear Henry
Half an hour ago I poured myself a large scotch and settled down to write to you and I’m not getting on very well. I don’t know what to write, I don’t know how I can help you, I don’t know why my prayers weren’t answered – I just don’t understand it all.

So, I’m going to pour myself another large scotch, sit down and think about it and drink to you and your courageous, determined and wonderful son. I will raise my glass to the memory of Piers – a memory of a marvellous man, a good friend and a very special friend of Hannah and Antero. I will drink to the happy time we shared back in summer sorting out the Gardens at Hazelgrove under his watchful eye.

Memories that will stay with me forever – how lucky I am to have known him. We all send our love to you all. You have been and will be for a long time in our thoughts and prayers.

Let’s have a Happy New Year,
God bless you all,
Cheers
Nobby
PS. I think I will have just one more!

**************************************
It was Piers who was the first in our family to discover the great Cornish comedian Jethro. I remember fondly him reciting how whilst listening to him in the car he had to pull over and stop as he was laughing so hard. Jethro has a rather poignant saying relevant to this occasion. He says,
“Treat every day as if it’s yer last………….’Cos one day you’ll be bloody right”
Piers’ leaving us so early in his and our lives is a testament to this saying, and a sharp reminder that we must cherish every single day in the same way Piers did. So - if there is something that you have been meaning to do and haven’t got around to doing it, don’t put it off any longer. And, when you have completed task, smile and think of Piers smiling back at you, for he will be happy and therefore, so should you.












 

BOXING DAY

Boxing Day – a relative flat, somewhat anticlimactic day in many a household I should imagine. This was certainly true of ours growing up – all that build up and then POW – gone, for another 364 days.

Not this particular year though. Boxing Day – hang on….was it Boxing Day? And was it Christmas Day yesterday? I’m not sure. I’m sure of one thing though. It was perfect. Warm, sunny and deliciously hot with the prospect of another beautiful day. It was a Boxing Day of tropicality; the picture perfect type that you see in holiday brochures with crystal white bleached sand, turquoise seas shimmering in the haze and elongated palm trees swaying in the warm breeze. It was a Boxing Day of such friendly culture; the local residents on this particular island were so humble and charming you wished you could bottle it, take it back home and let some of your miserable work colleagues take a sip of it. It was a Boxing Day that offered the prospect of exploration and adventure. It was time to move on and slow it down a little. The last four days had been the sort that you cherish; close company, great fun, a competitive volleyball scene and above all, the chance to catch up with my brother.

Piers – My elder brother and my only brother. My role model, in childhood and through early adulthood. He displayed and possessed so many of the better characteristics found in people: Piers was honest and caring, kind and considerate. Piers was patient and precise, conscientious and modest 
Piers was athletic, strong, sheepish and secretive. His being was an attractive mould that I could ill afford to ignore…….so I didn’t. I copied it as a platform and then tweaked it along the way adding my own character as it developed and including those from others that I met along the way.
Piers had had an early 30’s wobble in life but on this Boxing Day he looked great. He had brighter coloured clothing on and had a cheeky self chuffed grin on his face bringing out that sheepish nature. It would seem that he had spent the evening with the pretty Romanian Girl.

It is known that the brain has the ability to process many thoughts in a nano second and like a scene from The Matrix mine went into freeze frame mode when I first heard it.
Screaming – a playful water fight maybe?…………like the ones the boarding students would have at the school I was working at.
A rabid dog attacking one of the many strays that littered the island……well, possibly?
A domestic fight between two of the women street vendors or a fisherman man gone crazy brandishing a knife and threatening to use it?
The screaming didn’t stop. It was louder than an isolated incident.
The screaming intensified and was en mass just out in the street.
The screaming was running through the café in a frenzy, knocking people over and engulfing them out through the back door and into the market.
The screaming was everywhere.
We couldn’t help but run. It was the panic. Not our panic, but the panic of those running around us. We must have looked like a swarm of ants, but without the order or the purpose.

The freeze frame mode switched to fast forward. We were moving, but at the mercy of the crowds dictated by the chaos. The screaming was everywhere……….until we saw it.
“Water Come, Water Come” shouted a local - and that is when it stopped. It was abrupt, instant - like we had changed channel on the tv – from a horror film to national geographic. The noise by now was chilling, metal screeching on metal, tree trunks snapping and splintering and the wind…….the wind was howling like a scene from twister. The horizon looked different, it was boiling up, bubbling in front of us, getting bigger and heading right in our direction.

From the roof I surveyed the carnage. How did I get up here? What just happened? Why had the streets flowed like supercharged canals full of debris? Had the sea done it? Why was the sun still out, surely it should be raining? Where had the trees gone? Wow, the roof was really hot and littered with people in various states of dress and shock.

Time to assess:

Sophie was safe and alive on the roof – check. Albeit just, wimpering and sobbing incoherently. Moments before she been trapped, submerged under the moving landfill drinking it’s content to end it. Somehow, she had been spat back up to the surface.

Nick was on the roof – check. Uninjured, completely dry and still holding his bag. His decision to take the side alley was a wise one.

Ben was now safe – check. He had moved away from the pillar and got up onto the adjacent roof. We had been stood together. He had been in it, hit by it and transported down the street. He was uninjured – how?

I was OK – check. My thumb was cut and my flip flops were missing? I was dry. How did I get on this roof?
Piers was…………….Where was Piers? – check. Where was Piers? – check. Piers didn’t respond to our calling.



That’s when the island fell silent.

Boxing Day had changed.


The search for Piers lasted 5 days. We finally found him on New Years Eve – his body having been taken to a make shift morgue at the Chinese Temple in Krabi. In many ways our search was made easier than the unenviable task that others had for we knew exactly where he was when it happened, we knew what he was wearing on that Boxing Day morning and I knew all of his personal details. Other relatives and friends who arrived later to start looking had little to go on. We had some leads from our investigating – they generated false alarms but leads gave us hope and purpose.



The island of Koh Phi Phi, situated in the Andaman Sea on the west coast of Thailand had taken a large hit by the tsunami and the town had taken the brunt of it. Built on a sand bar spanning between the huge limestone carst topography it was narrow, densely populated as it turned out and very vulnerable to the deluge that hit it. Arriving at the deeper south side, the tsunami was not your archetypal wave – merely a volume of water that didn’t stop on the beach but kept flowing up through the town causing people to flee to the north side. By the time the water had refracted around the headland, it entered the shallow north beach, cresting up to form a wave some say was 7 metres high. That is what did the damage: By the time it reached us, mid town the flow of debris was 2 metres deep and moving at a pace in the region of 30mph.

1500 people are reputed to have died on Koh Phi Phi and between 6 and 700 people are still missing. We didn’t feel the quake and had no warning. Many people were not out of their rooms when it struck at 10.36am. By 10.39am – that tropical picture I painted at the start of this presentation was utterly transformed. Manpower could never have transformed a place in the same way. This was a feat only Mother Nature could achieve and my word – she did it comprehensively alright!

 

 











WHAT WE DO

PSA: Making Financial Contributions to Disaster Affected Communities

The Piers Simon Appeal is a UK registered charity (charity no. 1109503) that provides financial support through Disaster Relief (DR) to victims of disasters, big or small worldwide, regardless of race, politics or religion. 

Here at the PSA our time is spent between:

1: Monitoring Disasters – Following a disaster the PSA sieve through disaster relief websites, aid agency situation reports (sit reps) and contacts in the field to gain as much context and information about the severity and scale of the disaster.  Such work is vital for determining if and how the PSA get involved.

2: Fundraising – this makes up the core of what we do, raising funds so that we can help others in their hour of need.

3: Awareness – promoting the PSA and our work in all the varying forms of public channels e.g media, internet, social media, schools, clubs and businesses.









 

WHY WE DO IT

PSA – “Help Us Help Others”

Disasters all have one common feature – that being the ability to cripple the infrastructure of communities in a matter of moments, often with no or little warning.  The results can sometimes be unfathomable – natural elements combining with internal and external forces to paralyse society and sadly erase humanity off the face of the planet.

Surviving is one thing; often a sheer stroke of luck, a temp of fate, or simply…….a coincidence.  The difference between making it and not, cruelly determined mathematically by centimetres on the ground or fractions of a second in time.  Rebuilding life and a livelihood afterwards is another.

“Having witnessed first had the utter devastation caused by the Indian Ocean Tsunami on Koh Phi Phi it was clear that the island and it’s people would need help – help in the form of man power and help in the form of finance.
Luke Simon

The communities on Thailand’s east coast took a big hit that Boxing Day and in the hours and days afterwards we met scores of local inhabitants and Thai nationals all united to offer assistance.  The compassion they showed towards our plight to find Piers was humbling – so many had lost numbers of their own yet they were still able to help us. 

The Piers Simon Appeal was our way of giving something back to the devastated communities affording them the opportunity to rebuild and regenerate their lives.

Disasters can strike anywhere at anytime.  Cruelly, so many affect countries and people that sit at the lower end of the poverty-ranking index where existence before it was already a struggle.  How can these people, stricken with grief and stripped of family members and their livelihoods begin to rebuild?  This is the reason why Piers Simon Appeal continues fundraise!”
Luke Simon – brother of Piers and charity liaison officer of the Piers Simon Appeal














 



APPEALS

Time frame:
Set up in the immediate aftermath of breaking news disasters to capitalise on the exposure given by the news networks.  The first few days are fundamentally important.  Appeals stay open for around 2 months.

Objectives:
1: Provide an avenue for people who feel compelled to donate and help.
2: Promote the Appeal as comprehensively as possible.
3. Strive to maximise the capacity to raise funds. 

Following the March 11th 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami the PSA worked closely with the Japanese community close to our HQ here in Somerset.  The response from public donors to the Japanese fundraisers was incredible and without doubt getting nationals from the affected country involved contributed to a far greater total.











 























EMERGENCY RESPONSE

Time Frame:
Disaster genre, location, people affected, situation and severity dependent but usually 0-21 days.

Objective:
To distribute PSA funds quickly to charities/NGO/organisations working directly on the ground at the heart of the disaster zone.

Through initial monitoring the PSA are able to establish which organisations are first on the scene of the disaster.  As well as search and rescue, the immediate priorities are the needs of the survivors – primarily water, food, shelter and medicine.

The PSA are proud to be linked with the disaster relief charity ShelterBox. www.shelterbox.org

ShelterBox provide emergency shelter and lifesaving supplies for families around the world who are affected by disasters, at the time when they need it the most. 

Each large, green ShelterBox is tailored to a disaster but typically contains a disaster relief tent for an extended family, blankets, water storage and filtration equipment, cooking utensils, a stove, a basic tool kit, a children’s activity pack and other vital items. 

ShelterBoxes are delivered in country by trained Response Team Members (SRT’s).  Luke Simon qualified as an SRT in June 2008.







 



RECOVERY PHASE

Time Frame:
Disaster genre, location, people affected, situation and severity dependent
21 days – 10 years.

Objective:
To help communities rebuild their lives once the emergency response phase has passed and the infrastructure (and risk) has stablilised.

To seek out the most appropriate beneficiaries of PSA funds.

In the months after a disaster, aid agencies (big and small) hold cluster meetings to establish which orgaisnations will work where.  Situation Reports (sitreps) are produced documenting this information. From these the PSA can make informed decisions about who and how our fund can best be used.

Often, makeshift community groups made up of local/expatriate inhabitants set up to run their own recovery phase program’s of work if they are overlooked by the big authorities.  Once a communication channel has been secured and the legitimacy of the project has been verified, the PSA will often donate funds to these groups as they offer the best value for our donated money.  Where necessary, the fund will be sent in installments so the PSA can monitor the progress.







 


MISSION

Mission Statement

To aid the regeneration of communities and to alleviate suffering and hardship caused by disasters worldwide regardless of race, religion or politics
 















FUTURE

'Help Us Help Others'

Before the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami only major disasters, primarily earthquakes made the national news.  Now thanks to advances in mobile technology, there are far more disasters making news headlines showing the agonising plight many are faced in the aftermath.

The PSA will continue to fundraise to help the victims of disasters and give them a chance to start rebuilding their lives.