Simon was a Cambridge graduate in natural sciences before embarking on a research career. He left this to become a bricklayer after becoming disillusioned that science was more interested in profits and products than people.
He pursued a new vocation in grassroots occupational heath operating in communities where it was accepted that work could kill. His approach was simple but revolutionary in the world of epidemiology- to ask the workers themselves. A belief that the workforce should be able to provide this information without fear of loss of their job or retribution led him to work with unions and sympathetic GPs to create the Sheffield Occupational Health Project, which became a model copied throughout the UK.
This led to the provision of monitoring equipment and the empowerment of occupational health workers. In particular the racial inequality in occupational health, and the irritants and sensitisers causing occupational asthma were revealed.
Tragically, it was Simon’s work as a Bricklayer that led to his untimely death from Mesothelioma. (A particularly aggressive asbestos related lung cancer.) Despite his receiving a diagnosis that was terminal he continued to work up until 2 weeks before his death researching occupational bladder cancer which is the latest in a long line of illnesses which the authorities appear to be ignoring.