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Infectious enthusiasm inspired others

PUBLISHED: 15:05 29 January 2009 | UPDATED: 12:52 03 July 2010

BIG SMILE: Simon Banham

BIG SMILE: Simon Banham

POPULAR Simon Banham's big smile beams out from every page in his parent's photograph album.

His tragic death from natural causes has devastated Gerry and Brenda Banham, of Gorleston, who this week paid tribute to the 40-year-old whose warm-hearted nature and enthusiasm for the simple things in life helped him take epilepsy and sleep apnoea in his stride.

POPULAR Simon Banham's big smile beams out from every page in his parent's photograph album.

His tragic death from natural causes has devastated Gerry and Brenda Banham, of Gorleston, who this week paid tribute to the 40-year-old whose warm-hearted nature and enthusiasm for the simple things in life helped him take epilepsy and sleep apnoea in his stride.

The shocking suddenness of Simon's death at home in Burgh Castle completely without warning and on the eve of his mother's 70th birthday has triggered hundreds of messages from well-wishers whose kind words have brought comfort to the family - and sometimes a smile as friends recount escapades he never told mum and dad.

This week his mother explained how his big smile hid a host of medical problems that led to him giving up work and caring for his parents following her stroke and his father's brain tumour.

Nature-loving Simon, who loved Burgh Castle and was proud to serve on its parish council, enjoyed walking, cooking, gardening and music.

His mother said his wide circle of friends took in people of all ages, his infectious enthusiasm for life inspiring many of them to achieve their goals.

Simon grew up in Cobholm with his brother Mark, 45, attending Cobholm Infants School, Edward Worlledge and Styles Senior School. He enjoyed judo and Sea

Scouts and at 16 he left school to become a borough lifeguard on Great Yarmouth and Gorleston beaches, earning a Royal Humane Society award for his role in a daring rescue off Yarmouth's jetty.

He went on to work in local holiday camps and at Butlin's in Skegness. His love of music saw him dabble in DJ-ing which took him to China for three months and to Ibiza, where he did a session with Heather Small and M People.

Ill-health however took its toll and he moved back to the area, working for some years in double glazing. He was married for five years.

Mrs Banham said: “He was a big chap with a heart of gold. He had lots of friends. He adored them and they loved him but his family came first.”

Simon's brother Mark, his wife Katie and their two-year-old daughter Rosie came home from Canada to support his parents and make all the arrangements.

Mark's son Louis, who was very close to his uncle Simon, was present when police broke into his home on January 11. His mother said she had “an awful feeling” when she was unable to reach Simon on his phone, but added the police were “absolutely magnificent”, even remembering the cat, its litter tray and food.

More than 300 people attended his funeral service, with music from Joy Division, Nickelback and Jerusalem reflecting Simon's patriotism. His godson has had a star named after him. Mr and Mrs Banham are determined to stay strong for their wonderful, exuberant son who did so much for so many people - and always with a smile.

The family plan to scatter his ashes in his two favourite places, Gorleston Beach and Dunwich.


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