Tributes To Simon Halliday
16th July 1970 - 4th January 2020
My early memories of caving with Simon are somewhat blurred and though we did a lot of hard caving in the early years I truly got to know him over the last few years when my passion for caving was reignited. This was in no small part to the energy and relentless enthusiasm of Simon badgering me and the club to go caving ie help carry his bottles / sort out some new project he was planning . He was one those people you look at and think how the hell does he do that . He would think nothing of rising early to fit in a quick 5 mile run before a caving trip and he would always be the strongest member of the team. Most of the stuff he has achieved I couldn’t have even attempted in my prime. He truly was a remarkable person with boundless energy for the things he loved to do, and his passion was infectious which brought both new life to the club and for those that were fortunate enough to go underground or dive with him. He was ever helpful and encouraging in his own unique way and nothing was too much trouble for him should you need help. I remain numb at the loss of such an amazing person but I am honoured to have been able to have shared some unique times with him and he will never be far from my mind . I dearly wish our friendship and adventures could have continued. Our deepest sympathies go to his family
Sam Garrad. Pegasus C.C.
We are still not over the news that broke on that fateful Saturday and in all honesty I don’t think we will ever completely come to terms with it.
Myself and Ceily first met Simon in our local bar I think we were the only two people able to match him pint for pint after our training with the N.P.C. elite. We hit it off immediately and from there we worked together on a myriad of projects, both work wise and leisure, what came across right from day one was Simon's enthusiasm and limitless energy, no short cuts, no bending the rules, give it 100% or move on!
Those heady days bring back a lot of wonderful memories
It was inevitable then that he would one day ask about our caving background, and sure enough it came “Take me caving” said he and from there it was just a whirlwind of training on ropes, learning the gear, rigging and all that comes with it. One of the amazing things that made Simon special was his ability to be able to laugh at his own mistakes and this was manifested in the early days watching him trying to match Ceily’s speed on a big pitch using single rope, something I never quite managed to achieve myself!! Simon's thirst for knowledge was insatiable and it was just that which led us onto mining and eventually cave diving. His first dive proper was in one of our local reservoirs. “Meet at 9:30pm then Simon “It’s too late” was the reply “It will be dark by then” “Yes Simon! That’s right!!!” What transpired on that misty moonlit evening is etched into my own and Ceily’s mind. We all laughed and joked together, Simon would not give up under any circumstances, eventually we had to drag him away laughing and singing to the bar.
After gaining his diving qualification by taking his final P.A.D.I. qualifying final test in the Red sea no less, we now felt it was the right time to unleash this raw unbridled talent on to the rest of the unsuspecting world via the Pegasus C.C. lads, the C.D.G. and N.P.C. guys and he felt relaxed and at home in their company, here was a wealth of knowledge and experience emanating from some very unique and like-minded people willing to pass it all on and who eventually became some of his best and most valued friends and it goes without saying the feeling was mutual. In between all this he gave up the fags and the beer totally and went on to excel in running, cycling, work, and much much more, but it was inevitable that he would one day return to his first love diving and caving. Simon made friends easily and where ever life took him and whatever company he found himself in, with his larger-than-life personality, his boundless energy and thirst for knowledge, not to mention his insatiable lust for life meant he inevitably always left a good impression with whoever was fortunate enough to cross his path. Paying full tribute to Simon and his many and varied achievements would require volumes, attempting to compress it into a few sentences does not really do him and the dizzy heights he attained in life justice. His memory and indeed his legacy will live on in many ways, not least with the question “Where does the line end in Lancaster Hole main drain?” Will we ever know Simon??
We feel proud and humbled to have been two of Simon's many friends, He is sadly missed leaving behind a lasting and memorable impression on our minds and he will never be far out of our thoughts. Our hearts go out to his amazing wife Toni herself a qualified diver, his children and family R.I.P.
Barry & Ceily Sudell
Simon with Daughter Izzy
Simon exiting Malham Flood Rising. Photo John Cordingley
“Just setting off. I’ll be underground all day, will post something later”
This was the last notice Pegasus Club Nottingham received from Simon before concerns of an Overdue cave diver started to come through to us on that fateful day.
Simon was a dedicated, focused and professional person, who aimed to excel in everything he involved himself with. A person who has left a large void both as a friend and in the caving, diving fraternity, always pushing the boundaries in exploration.
I first met Simon shortly after I had qualified as an open water diver. Pegasus had arranged an altitude dive at Hodge Close and whilst I was excited about the trip I was also feeling apprehensive. Simon in his confident and friendly manner stepped in and talked me through the dive and immediately put me at ease. Further dives in the Farn Isles, together with copious amounts of beer followed before he started embarking on his strict fitness regime.
My last caving trip with him was last year when Pegasus organised a trip into Hillocks mine Monyash. Descending the engine shaft on rope and then climbing out on ladders, exiting the oil drum entrance. Whilst in the mine exploring the passageways, Simon took a particular interest in the flooded level and started making plans to do a return trip to dive it. However it would require a fair bit of gardening in a flooded passageway. He was for ever looking to push and explore.
More recently I was privileged to work with him on a couple of the club’s projects. Simon as always the driving force, ensured we achieved the days aim in a “hands on” professional way.
A sad loss, Simon will be sorely missed and I would like to think he’s now somewhere special, pushing his caving and diving explorations.
My thoughts are with his family.
Malcolm Scothon. Pegasus C.C.
Lancaster Main Drain Sump, May 2019. Photo: Andrew Walchester
Pozo Azul, Photo: Pedro Gonzalez
I first met Simon some twenty years ago when he attended a Pegasus A.G.M with his long-time friend and mentor Barry Sudell. From the first meeting it was clear that he was a bit of a party animal confident and gregarious. Work hard, play hard and drink even harder, with such personality traits he was instantly accepted into the Pegasus fold. Over the next few years I accompanied Simon along with other club members on an assortment of many varied trips: Caving, cave diving, Quarry diving and sea diving, all invariably followed by a session in some local hostelry, then quite often finished off with a visit to the nearby curry house. When the trips were in the Dales or the Lakes area, Simon and Toni’s house was always made available for eating and sleeping. At a Pegasus A.G.M. in 2003 Simon announced that he was going on a trip to the Gouffre Berger with a Dales based club. Despite being very unfit, overweight and out of practice I announced that I would do anything to join the expedition (This was very much the beer talking) the following morning whilst nursing a mega hangover Simon rang to inform me that I was on the trip. Over in France Simon lead from the front and with two caving buddies Rupert and Jan the three of them had the cave rigged from top to bottom within a couple of days making it easier for the rest of the party to descend. I am eternally grateful for being allowed this opportunity to achieve one of my lifetime ambitions. After the Berger trip Simon disappeared off the scene for a considerable time throwing his energy and enthusiasm into making his business thrive and taking care of his wife and family including an addition to the family of a new born daughter.
Completely out of the blue Simon rang me in the summer of 2018 saying he would like to get re-acquainted with his friends in the Pegasus and did I fancy doing some caving and/or diving. I suggested he should come down for the annual reunion and invited him to stay at my place. Whilst sleeping over in the spare bedroom Simon commented that the loft ladder he’d fitted some fifteen years earlier (Whilst doing a loft conversion helped by Barry Sudell) needed replacing. Despite living almost 100 miles away and having an incredibly congested diary of commitments, Simon made the time to come down and sort the ladder. Simon was just an incredibly reliable person. I should mention that in the fifteen years since the Berger trip to current times Simon had morphed from the party animal into a super fit, super slim teetotaler, a fell runner of some note, with a CV of fell running records to his name. Simon re-joined the caving scene with a vengeance, kick-starting (Or kicking the arse) of a group of fairly sedentary cavers and throwing himself wholeheartedly into an assortment of challenging projects, including diving flooded mine workings to gather information on submerged machinery, surveying large complex mine workings along with of course the diving project in Lancaster Hole which led to his untimely demise. Simon was thorough and meticulous in his preparation for all his ventures and also recording detailed logs of all trips he participated in for inclusion on the Pegasus Club website. Simon's vision, enthusiasm and dedication was infectious, he will be massively missed by not only the Pegasus Club but by the caving and cave diving fraternity in general.
R.I.P. my good friend.
Al Steans. Pegasus C.C.
Pozo Azul, Photo: Pedro Gonzalez
SIMON HALLIDAY; A PERSONAL TRIBUTE TO A GOOD FRIEND
When Simon died on 4th January this year at the age of 49, the Cave Diving Group lost one of it’s most active members. He failed to return from a long exploratory dive in the Downstream Sump of Lancaster Hole, a project which he had taken on with characteristic energy and enthusiasm. As I write we are yet to determine exactly what went wrong.
I came to know Simon for the second time in November 2018 when we bumped into each other in the “Reefers and Wreckers” dive shop near Clitheroe, where he sometimes stood in as an instructor. We hadn’t recognised each other and Mick Turner (the shop owner) introduced us; Simon had lost a lot of weight compared with when I’d remembered him from 20 years previously. (He had lapsed his earlier CDG membership around the time but did a lot of open water diving meanwhile, before rejoining the CDG more recently.) Back in the day he’d liked his ale but decided to give it up completely when it was stopping him doing things. Simon preferred to make every moment count; having decided to do something, he always gave it 100%. This required an exceptional level of fitness so the drinking had to go and, to his great credit, he stuck to it.
A typical Pennine lad, Simon had a modest exterior but he was as hard as nails and loved being on or under the hill. As a long-term Pegasus member he was an excellent caver, having bottomed the Gouffre Berger among many other achievements. Another of his interests was mining history, which often took him up to the Nent Head area and the Peak District. Simon was passionate about fell running, at which he excelled. He’d completed a “Bob Graham Round” (running 66 miles over 42 Lake District peaks, in less than 24 hours). But, Simon being Simon, he ran it on another occasion in winter when, apart from fighting harsh conditions, much of the route has to be navigated in darkness. The magnitude of such an undertaking, which he did on 23rd December 2007, is staggering.
He was fond of early starts and would often go for a long fell run, first thing, before coming cave diving with us. Simon was a real powerhouse, to the extent that he was sometimes fondly referred to as a “machine” (because he would just keep going and going). He certainly kicked my backside a time or two, when I was running out of steam. Having his own loft conversion business meant he could arrange to be available midweek. As a result he was soon incorporated into the Malham Cove team and made a big contribution to this diving project. When we were wanting to get the many line junctions out-tagged at this site it was Simon who came up with the idea of making arrows from plastic barge board offcuts. (He found it very satisfying to be able to re-use waste generated by his business). They’re still in there, of course, making it safer for future visitors.
Simon was such a solid bloke; quite inspirational and always excellent company. We shared a love of tea drinking and he’d routinely call round on the way home after a dive or a hard caving trip, to discuss what he’d been up to that day. It had to be a pint pot of tea; small mugs just didn’t hold enough. There’s a particular mug in my kitchen which I guess will always be Simon’s pint pot.
He liked tinkering with gear and making things which weren’t easily available. I remember he needed a component for one of his DPVs. The sheet of aluminium to fabricate it from could have been bought but Simon decided to cast his own. Being a non drinker he was short of the raw material (i.e. beer cans) so he had me going round the recycling bins in various Dales caving hostels for weeks, until he had enough. No challenge seemed too great for him; he kept bees for a while and once gave me a jar of the honey he’d produced. It knocked the spots of the stuff bought in shops.
A character like Simon would have struggled to come to terms with the insidious onset of old age, alongside the detrimental effects on one’s capabilities. Yet he achieved a lot more in his shortened life than most other people do in their three score years and ten, or beyond. He was a genuine and generous bloke, always willing to give his time to help. Simon was one of the Northern Section’s most promising “newer” members and his loss was a bitter pill to swallow for all of us. Goodbye, old pal.
First published in CDG Newsletter 215 (April 2020). Reproduced here by kind permission of the author.