It is with great sadness that we report the loss of Bandmaster, bass player, husband, father, brother and friend Simon Meakin, taken from us prematurely on 18th September 2012. Simon was one of the most genuine, steadfast, honest, reliable and competent people you could ever hope to meet. His passing will leave a special place in the band that will never be filled.
Our thoughts are with Adele, Sam, Joe, Chloe and brother Daniel at this tragic time.
Simon Meakin – A Tribute
Many of us here today will remember Simon as ‘The Rock’ of the family. Whether that be as a husband, father, brother, brother in law, uncle, son, grandson, musician, car enthusiast, work colleague or as a friend, Simon’s love of all his families meant he played such a vital role in each and every one. Today we join as both families and individuals to say thank you and celebrate the life of a remarkable man.
I first knew Simon back in the mid 1970’s and we had much in common – and since talking to Adele, much more in common than I first thought! More hair was one, and another was having no idea how our feeble attempts to extract a note from a brass instrument would eventually be such an influence on both our lives.
In 1978 our ability to successfully string together a series of notes was discovered, and we both progressed to the main Taverham Band, on a January night where the conductor, drummer, principal cornet and 2 trombones all resigned. We had made our mark! His brother Daniel was soon following Simon’s footsteps learning the Euphonium and too becoming a member of the Band.
A few years later Simon passed his driving test, invested in a red Ford Escort estate and became my taxi to weekly band rehearsals held at Sprowston. Our joint love of music not only materialised in the band room but during the journeys to and from band. His cassette tape (I had to explain that to Chloe) of the music from the James Bond film ‘Live & Let Die’ was something that was played, rewound and replayed over and over again – the same piece every time. You will all remember the New Orleans Jazz Band from that film I’m sure.
As the years passed, he met Adele and she soon became a supporter of the Band, her highlight being the role of a door to door collector, as the Band serenaded Christmas Carols on the Heartsease Estate on a crisp December evening. We can only surmise what followed, suffice to say Simon left the Band some 6 years after joining. In the years that followed Adele became accustomed to the domestic chores in the Meakin household; bricklaying, using an angle-grinder, plumbing and tiling to name but a few, all with Simon closely supervising through a camera lens.
Despite 9 years in the Brass Band wilderness all changed in 2003 when a very young Sam began to learn the cornet and Simon was persuaded to re-join. My brother Chris taught Sam to play and it was Chris who had trouble keeping up with Sam as he progressed, eventually taking up and mastering the trombone (Sam that is not Chris). On re-joining the Band in 2003, Simon became one of those people that society fails to understand – he wanted to play the Tuba. The rest of the family soon realised that it was a case of ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’ and Chloe and Adele both took up playing brass. Daniel returned to the Band and niece Bethany took up the Baritone. Joe despite having a good go at the cornet, preferred the keyboard and bass guitar, bringing to the fore the excellent use of his fingers combined with the potential to blow up something electrical, skills that several including the Jonathan Wyatt Big-Band now have the proud benefit of.
As a member of the Band’s tuba section Simon would always be sitting directly in front of me in the centre. He developed a particular skill whereby if there was an erroneous note emerging from the section, (a rare occurrence of course); a combination of eye direction and height of raised eyebrows would indicate to me the source of this unfortunate sound. The trouble was that all the other tuba players developed the same skill and it was amusing to watch this in action, as the blame was passed around the section. The friendly banter between Richard Spinks and Simon as to the best Tiger Rag soloist now draws to a close with Richard conceding that it was him who made the most mistakes.
As well as a musician, Simon was a key member of the Band’s management committee, and Exploding Brass! Team, undertaking the role of Bandmaster, supporting me in all ‘non-musical’ band matters which varied from deportment, supporting the Training Band, seeing to the Bands well-being and ensuring that the uniform was all in order.
The Band will all have fond memories of the text received at the Queen’s Hall in Watton this year, following a household incident involving the holing of not one, but two pairs of ‘nearly black’ tights, and the trepidation that only ‘black’ or ‘nude’ were available as the substitute. I must clarify that this incident occurred with Chloe and Adele and not Simon although stories have recently emerged from Chris Spry of the time Simon answered the front door comfortably wearing Adele’s neatly tied pink dressing gown!
As a result, of this trauma, ‘Tightgate’ became one of the longest running Agenda items in Band committee history, along with the passionate debate that ensued as to what constituted ‘nearly black’ and the allowance of such items to each female member. Quite worryingly, the uniform debate continued over the summer where shorts and Crocs were even being suggested!
As everyone who knew Simon will agree, he would have a go at anything, always with a smile and never deterred. A determination evidenced when he commenced Costessey High School, attending on his first day adorning a neatly pressed uniform and briefcase in hand, to discover he was the only one dressed as such. He persevered, as he did with all his other challenges; building his house, bee-keeping, tandem riding, punting, canoeing, car building, tuba playing – nothing would be avoided, and the outcome would always be the same – ‘Spot On’ as he would say. These challenges would be interspersed with the occasional mischievous act such as those involving a banana, a whistle and a Model T exhaust.
Simon’s caring nature came to the fore during his Centreparcs holidays. Not wanting to see the poor staff struggle with the task of finding and returning dumped hire cycles, he would always engage his family to undertake this task, ensuring at least 4 hrs use were made before return, with whatever size or style of bike that could be found. Many a time Chloe enjoyed mountain biking on a tricycle.
His love of camping took family and friends away to many exquisite locations – the cheaper the better. Searching the internet one day he discovered the perfect site at a knock down price. It’s a great shame he missed the small print regarding clothes being optional.
Simon would always be the first person people contacted to deal with life’s trials and tribulations. Whether it be to sort a leaking car, tow a caravan, plough a furrow, supply a 25mm M6 bolt, fit a tow bar, terminate the life of ailing poultry, create the perfect packed-lunch or serve up a certain favourite cheese, Simon would always be the one to sort it – usually armed with the same set of tools for each.
Adele was telling me how over the past few months Simon had been passing on many of the family tasks to the children. We all know that Sam, Joe and Chloe have and will take forward all the fantastic attributes of Simon as they regroup as a family and carry on with family life. I for one cannot wait to see Joe, as he attempts to sweep the chimney and I understand tickets for this event will be on sale very soon. Whilst Simon has been taken from us far too early, he is now reunited with his dad and grandad. We can all just imagine what schemes and projects must be being planned by the Meakin’s right now in that workshop.
I have often stood on this spot, talking more than I should, with Simon behind me mumbling ‘get on with it’, and I’m sure today is no exception. So as I conclude this tribute, I bring together the thoughts of all who knew Simon and how we will remember him.
Simon was always on a mission, whether it be planning or undertaking a project, restoring cars, making a bespoke tuba case, building a house, constructing the famous black barbeque or marching through Paris, Baden-Powell style to find his next film-set photo opportunity, as others struggled to keep up.
Whilst Simon starts his next mission in a new direction, his mission with us here is complete. His fondness of maps and planning has meant it has been a carefully planned mission that has inspired so many others during his time with us, inspiration that will support and give strength to every one of us as we continue on our own journeys through life.
In the words of James Bond creator Ian Fleming, Simon certainly lived, and sadly we must let die. But we do so, with a great deal of gratitude to a wonderful man, who successfully completed his biggest mission, the mission of life.
Ian Colman 2/10/12 (at Simon’s Funeral)
From the Evening News, 22nd September 2012
Taverham Band members are mourning the sudden death of long-serving musician and band member Simon Meakin on Tuesday 18th September.
Simon, from Felthorpe, died as a result of complications following a tennis injury to his calf.
The father-of-three joined the brass band as a trainee before progressing to join the main band in 1978, where he played the baritone for six years.
After taking a break he returned to the band to play Eb tuba in 2003, at which time his son Sam and daughter Chloe were learning trombone and cornet respectively with the band.
The family involvement expanded further, with wife Adele taking up the tenor horn and youngest son Joe working as a sound and lighting engineer.
Mr Meakin also was a key member of the management committee as Bandmaster and worked with the Youth Training Band.
The band’s musical director, Ian Colman, who joined the band on the same day as Mr Meakin in 1978, said: “The Band is totally devastated at the sudden loss of such an important musician and friend.
“The success seen by the band over recent years has been a result of an excellent team of people working both on and off the stage, and Simon played a key role in both aspects.”
“With members of the band averaging 17-years membership, we are one big family, and I know the band is very important to Adele and the children as they come to terms with their sad loss.”
Simon was employed as works manager with FW Frost Engineers Ltd in Drayton, which he joined after leaving school, and he was also a member of the Model T Club, with vintage cars being an interest passed down through generations of his family.