Remembering Simon

Simon in full flow

This site is dedicated to preserving our memories of Dr. Simon Speck. He meant so very much to very many people. We hope that you will choose to share some of your memories of him. We want this to act as a living book of memories through which we can visit him as he lives on in our thoughts. You are welcome to leave your thoughts as a comment on this post (link to the left or click here) but if you want to add an image or if you have more that you want to say then you are welcome to register as a contributor – it should only take two minutes.

To register simply click here. You will be asked to add a name (you can be anonymous if you like) and your email address. After that you will be sent an email confirmation link (it might be in your trash or spam filter) to confirm and add a password. Having done that just log in and write your post. Feel free to add photos. Or maybe you just want to post a photo! All comments and posts will be moderated.

Over the Summer all the posts will be collected and printed in a book of memories. Thanks for reading this far and, hopefully, thanks for contributing,

29 thoughts on “Remembering Simon”

  1. I walked into a university open day with the intention of getting as much information on social work as possible, and then enrolling on the course. Simon was free at the sociology desk and I though ‘I like sociology, let’s see what they’ve got to say’.

    From what I thought would be a quick chat on the off-chance turned into a lengthy conversation about my life, the world and what sociology could help me with. My mind changed I enrolled into sociology. It was everything I could have wanted and more.

    Top bloke.

    1. A great lecturer and friend not only to the staff but students too! Simon always went out his own way to help us in any way possible.
      I’ll always remember how he went out his own way to chase my GP down for a note for my exam and ranted about it in true Simon manner. I will forever be grateful for everything he has done for me to ensure I achieve my best. A great role model who has left a teaching legacy behind for us all! Will be missed dearly.

  2. It was a privilege and an honour to work with Simon. His commitment to students in helping and supporting them to succeed was clear to me from my first meeting with him. We worked together on supporting final year dissertation students and I was a inspired by his dedication. He was a true academic who put scholarship and learning at the heart of his work.

  3. Simon was a true scholar: intellectually rigorous and self-critical, but also humane in his relationships with students and staff, and with a concern for the social and political world that his scholarship sought both to explain and to critique.

  4. Simon was a favourite lecturer of mine. I remember being excited about social theory in my third year, but being even more happy to have Simon for it. His way of explaining things was so unique and always gave such a good perspective. I’ll never forget him saying ‘God doth ordain the strawberry flavoured condom’. The anecdotes of his childhood and travels always made for interesting lectures too. So sad to hear he’s gone.

  5. With one line Simon made the daunting task of my dissertation seem not so daunting (a choice qoute from full metal jacket) He was a fantastic lecturer, academic and person. He had a brilliant way of getting theory across to a class and was so engaging.
    I remember after the graduation catching up with him and that he always interested in what each of the students where doing after university
    He will be very missed.

  6. Here’s my bit on Simon – extract:

    ” … one of his favourite stories concerned his own spell of resistance in the mid-1980s. On a miners’ picket line, he oft told in excruciating, nay eye watering detail how a copper grabbed his ghoulies and squeezed them really hard during a spell of argy bargy. Of all the methods of physical assault Simon could have experienced – a baton charge, a clip over the head, a roughing up in the back of a van – he of all people had to fall victim to the most schoolyardish of police brutalities.”

  7. In lectures we talked about our families (and did some work too) which makes me feel so sad for his and grateful for his support.
    Tears have been shed

  8. Simon was one of my favourite lecturers – mainly because he had the best and most driest sense of humour I have EVER encountered. He was a very intelligent man who was passionate about the topics he specialised in. His lectures were always fun and interesting and often filled with stories of his experiences of childhood, life at uni and his travels. he spoke frequently about his friends and family (and spoke proudly of his wife’s success). But what I found most admirable and heart-warming was how Simon was somehow able to link anything and everything back to his daughter, often boasting about stories of her success in sports, her intelligence and being fascinated with her maturity and way of thinking. During discussions in seminars, the class were often reminded that his daughter was much more clever and analytical than most of us adults at University! Whenever Simon spoke about his daughter he always had a huge smile on his face! His immense love and pride for her was so obvious.

    Thoughts are with Simon’s family and friends.

  9. Such a very very sad loss. Simon was a phenomenal lecturer. He really opened up the world of Sociology for me & not only made it interesting, he made it relatable.
    There’s no doubt he will be sorely missed

  10. Simon and I started our jobs at the University of Derby on the same day in 1995, and shared an office for much of the time I worked there. I was so lucky to begin my first academic job with such a wonderful colleague. Simon was an outstanding scholar, but so modest as an intellectual, when in fact it was always humbling to speak with him about social theory. But he was also so human and thoughtful, as a lecturer, a colleague and in my last years in Derby, a neighbour, when he and his family moved to the next street to mine. I am sure he will be missed by so many, and am so sorry to hear that he has gone.

  11. Simon was my mentor while I was studying in Derby. Not only was he a great teacher but above all he was a really good friend and such a lovely person. I remember our conversations which always lasted for a long time. His lectures were always really interesting and his knowledge was just incredible. Demanding teacher? yes, but he only wanted you to achieve your best because he saw potential in you. Even after I graduated he kept helping me when I was doing my MA studies abroad. I remember when I asked him to send over my dissertation to Poland and he got really angry with me when I offerd to pay the money back. That’s the kind of person he was. It is because of him that I love sociology and that I am interested in what is going on around me.
    Simon, you will be missed. I will never forget you.
    Your student and friend,

  12. Simon was a great scholar who never complained about his work load. He always shared his research with others. He will be missed. He is one of the few who have survived restructuring and multiple Deans at Derby.

  13. What devastating news to hear of the passing of one incredible and inspiring lecturer, researcher and writer amongst many other things, Simon Speck. Simon is one of the individuals that I owe to my success at the University of Derby and like with many other students, it will never be forgotten. What an absolute legend. My heart goes out to Simon‘s family and his university family alike.

  14. Simon is one of the lecturers that I remember the most from my time in Derby (2008-2011). He was so passionate about his topics and sometimes he would just talk and talk and talk and talk until I genuinely didn’t know what he was talking about haha. Serves me right for not studying more. My favorite class was Music and Society.
    I remember going to his office to talk about my grades.
    I remember when I was stuck in Paris and couldn’t get my train back in time for my exam, and he let me re-do it.
    I remember being annoyed that I had to take an exam too instead of handing in an essay.
    I remember shaking his hand at graduation and he genuinely seemed proud.
    The last thing I remember from Simon was his letter of congratulations for my grades.
    And that was the thing about Simon, he probably would see hundreds of students every day but he still remembered you.
    I’ll remember you Simon. Thank you for making my time at Derby worth it.

  15. I often think of Simon because one my friends loves Frank Zappa and I remember Simon weaving in some Zappa wisdom at any opportunity. His dry humour and wit made lectures so interesting. He will be sorely missed.

  16. Simon was a great man, had a great sense of humour and we would always have a great laugh when discussing various topics. He was a pleasure to work with and I will miss his presence immensely. My love goes out to his family and friends.

  17. I worked with Simon from 2005 to 2014, sharing an office with him for several of those years, and when I left I knew I’d made a lifelong friend. As a lecturer, he nurtured students’ intellectual curiosity, and although occasionally frustrated when people didn’t seem to ‘get it’, he poured care and inspiration into the lives of countless students through his lectures, tutorials, references and carefully-crafted module handbooks. His knowledge of social theory and philosophy was far ahead of many of his colleagues’, including myself, and he will be a huge loss to the University’s sociology department. The sort of academic Simon was – someone who read a lot and only published when he knew he had something to say – is, sadly, becoming a rarer breed in universities. More important to me than his work role, I knew Simon as a friend – unfailingly supportive to me, always ready to help his friends to both laugh and theorise their way through dilemmas, a source of solidarity in the face of university managerialism, an excellent cook, and above all a brilliant husband to Anna, who he’d known and loved for more than half their lives, and a brilliant father to Melitta, who he adored and was hugely proud of. Simon, thank you so much for your friendship – I will miss you hugely.

  18. Simon was an amazing lecturer and I was always in awe of his knowledge. Sitting in social theory lectures I remember thinking how amazing it was to be learning about the greatest minds by one of the greatest minds I had ever been taught by. His understanding of the greatest thinkers amazed me and I loved having my mind blown every lecture with him teaching social theory is such a simple and understandable way. His humour always seeped into his lectures and I enjoyed his mumblings too himself which were no doubt a sarcastic comment in which he would laugh to himself about. I also enjoyed his anecdotes especially about his past, his wife and his daughter, he made lectures so understandable by using his own stories to make sense of the things we were learning about. Having been taught by Simon still only just over a month ago, I am still in shock that he is no longer with us and life at the University of Derby will be missing a special piece.

  19. I’m very saddened to hear the news of Simon’s death. S Simon was my lecturer in the 1990s and I very much enjoyed his approach. In the years following, it was always a pleasure to bump into him now and then. His love for his family was clear and they must be feeling this loss very deeply. Much love.

  20. I knew Simon as an inspiring tutor and academic, a trusted colleague, a family man, jazz fan, comrade, and friend.

    I was Simon’s colleague at the University of Derby for three years, from 2010 to 2013, and I have many fond memories of him and his family. He went above and beyond in terms of welcoming me to Derby and helping me getting settled into the job.

    Simon had an almost encyclopedic knowledge of sociology, social theory and society today. I learnt a lot from him and have many fond memories of our occasionally lively discussions on these topics. From our many good humoured debates on the role of religion in society today to the relative merits of avant garde jazz, and from the “Leninist party” to the contradictions of contemporary satire, he was always thoughtful, witty and interesting.

    I learnt massively and continue to be inspired by Simon’s approach to working in higher education. Though he did what was required to get along – he “played the game” as necessary – he never let that get in the way of being a great tutor and academic. He will be sorely missed.

  21. Dear Anna and Melitta,

    a message from the heart.

    Although I have never met either of you. I feel like I know your family because Simon would always share wonderful stories about what you meant to him in class. Therefore I wanted to share some off the impact you had on him.

    To Simon’s wife- it was very clear to me over the three years he taught me that you were someone he truly respected, admired and loved. He shared with us how compassionate you are and how he admired your work ethic. Often, he talked about how intelligent and interesting you are and how he couldn’t wait to be around you again. He spoke about how much he wanted you in his life and that he felt that he was lucky to have both of you.

    To Simon’s daughter-he was incredibly proud of you, and loved watching you grow up and seeing your curiosity about life develop. He did worry sometimes that you thought Simon didn’t think you were smart, but he really did think that you were smart and amazing. He told me stories about how you enjoyed playing football and how he was proud that you could stand up for yourself. He told me you were working hard at school and how he just wanted to help you at everything. It puts me in physical pain to think about how much he loved you and how much he would want to see you blossom. I loved listening to his stories about you, it gave us a sense of connection as I don’t know many people in their lives to have such a devoted loving father. I am so sorry for your loss.

    Simon was a wonderful human being and one of the reasons I think we bonded so well was because I have not met many people like him before. He was full of integrity, honesty, and kindness. I always felt he wanted my success and that was proud of me. I hope he knew that he was a real blessing in my life. All of my memories of him are amazing because he was a great conversationalist, his cultural references and ability to connect could lead to hours and hours of conversation.

    One particular memory of him stands out. There was a book review meeting at the multi-faith centre and Simon was one of the guest panelists. It was particularly nice to see him in his element feeling good about himself, which was rare because he was so hard on himself. He was a genuinely caring person and I will always miss him.

    I just feel lucky to have met him. He was a good man.

    I’m truly sorry for your loss and will keep your family in my thoughts and prayers.

    Elishah Akhtar.

  22. Simon was a lovely man. Intellectually very generous and helpful . Great role model and mentor for students. He will be greatly missed.

  23. I had a true respect for Simon. When I first went to him, with a question about an exam he spent an hour telling me how to methodologically tackle a question. The best memory I have of him though is when we were supposed to be discussing my dissertation, we spent an hour talking of Brecht and Benjamin- his knowledge was incredible and exciting especially when you had an interest in theory that he had ignited in you! Without him I would doubt I’d have the confidence to do a masters! He’ll be sorely missed.

  24. Simon worked collaboratively with his Education colleagues particularly in relation to sociology and childhood – he was always so willing to go out of his way to engage and work with us. We will miss him so very much. His contributions to our childhood research cluster were wonderful and thought provoking; we were so in awe of him. Simon was so many things, a wonderful colleague, a bright, funny and stylish man. He was so proud of his family and often spoke to me about them over the years I knew him. I send them my condolences and very best wishes.

  25. Simon was a brilliant lecturer and I’m very sad to hear this news. I have to thank him for all his support while I was at the University of Derby studying for my degree in 2001/2 He was part of an inspirational team. Margaret Gibson

  26. Today I have no idea why, but for some reason I decided to type in Simon’s name into Google to see if he was still at Derby University, where I studied between 2000 – 2003. To hear of his passing earlier in the year is so sad and my thoughts go out to his family and friends. Simon was a truly amazing and inspiring teacher and human being and I regard myself as very lucky to have met him. I still remember the first time I spoke to him which was the day after I received my A-Level results and I had done so badly and was hoping to get in Derby through clearing. I was put through to him for a quick chat and despite me feeling very low and embarrassed after how badly I had done, Simon was brilliant and gave me the confidence and motivation go to university.

    To this day I will forever be grateful for him pushing me to challenge myself more and in particular with my dissertation. I wanted to write about two challenging theories and how they were happening in the modern world but was concerned it was above what I could do but Simon never let that happen and gave me the encouragement and confidence to do it. At times he was critical but only in a way that would make me push myself to do better and I narrowly missed out on gaining a first which was beyond anything I thought I could achieve.

    Even after university when I emailed him a fair few years after I graduated to ask if he would consider being a reference for what was my first proper career position, I thought he wouldn’t remember me but I was wrong. He replied quickly and remembered who I was and seemed genuinely interested in what position I was applying for and how I was.

    I could write so much more and especially about his sociology knowledge which was unbelievable and now I see so many of things he said to me happening in society. Today is a very sad day for me and I am just gutted he has gone. Thank you for everything Simon, I will always be grateful.

  27. I had the pleasure and privilege of working with Simon for many years, and sharing an office with him. One may only admire the man’s fortitude for putting up with me for so long! He had a very dry sense of humour that was not always immediately apparent, but once one cottoned on to how his mind worked his wit – however disguised – made me smile. Always. That, and the fact that he was a far better lecturer than he thought he was. That’s true modesty for you. Taken wayyyyy to early, my man. I only wish I could have got back from Bangkok to help send you off to that place where heroes and gentlefolk rest.

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