Bill Simons, a tribute

Changing Faces Launch Face Equality Day

Bill Simons at Changing Faces’ 25th Anniversary Reception, May 2017

 

William Simons — Bill as he insisted in my first meeting I call him — was a gnarled and highly loveable gem…

Shortly after he became a household name as a star of Heartbeat in the early 1990s, he made contact with Changing Faces, offering to help in any way he could… I was entertained in an actors’ club with his inimitable understated hospitality and he told me his story.

A successful childhood acting career had not developed in his teens or young adulthood because his face was ‘invaded by acne’. He fought its ravages day and night for years but without much success. His face he likened to a WW1 battlefield: pot-marked and cratered and it caused him to seek a career literally behind the scenes as a stage manager. But he was frustrated and determined to try to find his way into theatre and TV. He said little of those years of trying except that they were hard and pitted with disappointment. But little by little and with persistence, he won through. Heartbeat was a perfect vehicle for his talents — and his weathered face too.

And now, he said, he wanted to give back… and help people with what he described — and I continually challenged — as ‘much more difficult’ facial disfigurements. And so it was that in 1997, he became a Patron of Changing Faces and immediately took the role very seriously. His first achievement was to host a delightful Day at York Races, creating a marquee full of friends and auctions. It was lots of fun and raised thousands of pounds.

Over the next 20 years, Bill was a constant source of support, speaking at events, giving his name and story to our publications, bringing guests and finding ingenious auction prizes for our Gala Dinners. Above all, he became a great friend to whom I could turn for advice and support and whom so many champions and supporters of Changing Faces came to love and revere too. He sought them out and laughed with them all…

Bill, you will live long in our memories as a superb Patron and as a very warm and loveable guy whose face glowed with love of life… Rest in peace…

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