My much loved and missed little brother, a beautiful soul inside and out.
12th March 1975 – 31st May 1991
Simon had many challenges in his physical life, severe epilepsy, cerebellar ataxia and a mental age of three due to oxygen starvation during his birth.
I owe pretty much all of what I do today to my brother Simon, who passed away in his sleep in 1991. He was just 16 when he died.
My mum Jude has explained to me how she was told Simon only had a 50/50 chance he would survive as she was rushed into theatre where he was delivered by emergency caesarean. Nurses had discovered that his head was pulsating during an internal exam, but Mum wasn’t told this. 6 weeks after the birth, she found out while reading her notes during a post natal appointment.
During the operation it became clear that the umbilical cord was prolapsed and was wrapped tightly around Simon’s neck, starving his brain of oxygen. Despite all this as far as the hospital were concerned he was revived easily and my parents were told there was nothing to worry about, and Simon was allowed home with my mum after 10 days.
I was 3 years old when Simon was born, and it wasn’t until Simon was 9 months old that anyone knew anything was wrong. Simon had a massive seizure in the middle of the night. All I remember is my dad carrying me to the car in my pyjamas and the sense of panic from my parents as we rushed to the hospital. My parents were told this was just a febrile convulsion due to Simon having a high temperature, and that he should be fine.
However after this first seizure, my parents noticed Simon would occasionally go blank, as if in a trance. This became more and more frequent. Doctors refused to believe there was anything wrong, but now we know these were petit mal epileptic seizures. When Simon was 3 years old, he was finally diagnosed with epilepsy due to brain damage at birth due to lack of oxygen. Still, my parents were told he could grow out of it. But one GP contradicted this and told my mum coldly and matter of factly that Simon’s condition would deteriorate more and more until he died an early death. My mum was completely traumatised and didn’t know what to think or believe. Simon’s seizures were a few months apart by now, but mum had noticed he was always very unsteady on his feet even when he was well.
Eventually when Simon was seven, he was diagnosed as having a second condition due to the brain damage at birth – cerebellar ataxia.
Cerebellar ataxia is a disorder of the nervous system which causes unsteadiness and a lack of co-ordination. It is a progressive disorder and can place unbearable stress upon the heart. It is a very rare disorder, with the group Ataxia UK estimating that only a few thousand people are affected in this country. Walking can become increasingly difficult, and it eventually becomes necessary to use a wheelchair. There is currently still no cure for people with cerebellar ataxia.
Simon needed 24 hour a day supervision and care. Mum and Dad never got to spend time together so we had babysitters provided by the Red Cross on rare occasions to give them a break. I didn’t know my home life was different to any other children, I was happy, and had plenty of friends to play with on our magical plot of land full of trees, rabbits and chickens.
Going out could be difficult sometimes; people would stare at us in shops and public places and make comments because Simon looked perfectly normal but was often in a buggy as he couldn’t walk far. And he was often quite loud, much to our amusement, he was hilarious! His roaring laughter was something to behold and you couldn’t help but join in.
Despite all his challenges, he was an absolute joy, full of smiles and laughter. He was a beautiful child, inside and out. I know I’m biased being his older sister, but he had the face of an angel, big brown eyes, long lashes, and a smile that lit up a room. Once met, never forgotten and his kisses and big bear hugs of affection were given to everyone who came to our house, whether they wanted them or not, they got them.
Simon looked a lot younger than his years and was on a lot of medications for the epilepsy, which unfortunately still didn’t control the seizures very well. He would have one and that would trigger up to 35 in succession, with just seconds between one ending and another starting. We would sit by his bedside and wait them out with him, cooling him down with a fan as his little body went through so much physical punishment. He was so groggy between seizures on those days, he just slept, barely regaining consciousness at all. Simon had no idea what was happening to him during or after the seizures, he had no understanding what a seizure was… and so a few days later he would be his usual happy contented self.
As far back as I can remember, I knew the drill when Simon had a seizure. It was just normality to me, I’d never known anything different, this was just how it was. Simon needed 24 hour supervision as he could potentially have a seizure at any moment. I was under strict instruction not to get Simon over excited when we played together as too much running around and laughing too much for too long could trigger a seizure, so we played hide and seek and I’d give him piggy back rides and swing him round and round until we were dizzy.
My parents had to show me how to administer Valium to him when I was just 11 years old, in case of emergency. We had to keep a diary of the times and duration of all the seizures for the specialists at Guy’s Hospital in London, as Simon was a test case for new drugs due to the severity of his condition. As he got older, the seizures would increase in severity, number and duration. We just had to stay by his side and keep him safe while they happened.
When Simon died unexpectedly in his sleep, we were completely devastated. The previous day was completely uneventful, he had been his usual happy self, playing with his tape recorder, scoffing cottage pie and biscuits in the evening.
I had stayed up late finishing my college coursework; I was studying fashion and business at the time and was 2 weeks away from completing the 2 year course. On my way to bed at 2am I looked in on Simon, who was quietly snoring away as usual. But less than 3 hours later my father was waking me, telling me Simon was gone. I refused to believe him, and ran to see for myself, he looked like he was asleep. The post mortem stated there was evidence to show he had a seizure because there were pinprick haemorrhages on his brain and he had bitten his tongue and so they put it down to epilepsy as cause of death. He was 16.
I was 19 years old, this was my first experience of death, my little brother. I had assumed up to now that when someone died, that’s it; they were dead and gone forever. I had no spiritual beliefs about any afterlife, and was a sceptical person about psychics and mediums in general.
So many people came to Simon’s funeral to say goodbye, including teachers from his school, friends he’d known. He’d touched so many people during his life.
A few weeks after Simon’s death, strange things started to happen. I would smell lilies when there were none in the house, and would catch faint whiffs of the baby shampoo we washed his hair with. I saw fast moving shadows on the periphery of my vision. I would often feel like someone was stood beside me or behind me when I was alone in the house.
I assumed it was all part of the grieving process and put it down to lack of sleep and round the clock crying, my senses playing tricks on me. More happened each day, but I tried to dismiss it all.
A few months later Simon made his presence really known. I was watching TV and saw a shadow travel across the floor from the doorway to the hall. When I looked directly at it I saw it was moving towards me. I kept blinking, I thought it was something in my eye, or imagination… then I could smell Simon’s shampoo, and when I asked for as sign that it was him, I felt a cold hand on my hand. I couldn’t work out how I knew, but I just felt it was his energy. I was a bit freaked out – but I just knew it was him. And then in a moment he was gone again.
I had to accept that there was an afterlife. I trusted what my own senses were telling me, that Simon had contacted me, and I wanted to know more about where Simon could be and what was happening to him in this other place. But this was 1991, there was no internet and I had no clue what to do or where to go. So I pushed it away for a time.
The following year I found myself working with a kind lady who spoke about a spiritualist church she was attending, she suggested I go along to learn more. I was still sceptical about such places but went along anyway. Although their approach wasn’t for me I found it comforting to hear messages from the other side bringing comfort to others.
Some time later when a friend of mine asked me to go to a medium with her as “the voice of reason” I agreed, and was ready to be the sceptical one, expecting this “medium” to be a fraud. So when Rose, the medium, began reading my friend but kept being drawn to speaking with me instead, I felt a bit uncomfortable.
She told me a few things I’d told no-one. She stopped speaking at one point and told me I had a light across my eyes, and that it was because I should develop my ability and that I would be a better medium than her one day. I just laughed it off, but she insisted she was right, and to prove it asked that I hold her wedding ring, look into a candle flame and tell her what I saw and felt. So I did, expecting nothing to happen at all. I don’t to this day remember what I said, it was as if I went blank… but 10 minutes later she said I’d just told her things that she hadn’t even told her husband. Once again I laughed it off as I was a bit unnerved by what had just happened.
I began speaking to other mediums after that and reading the few psychic publications I could find, mostly pamphlets and newsletters. Publications were few in the early 90s, and a lot of mediums weren’t interested in passing on any development advice, but I persevered and found the information I needed to enable my spiritual learning.
A little later, the internet became an amazing source of information and put me in touch with other mediums who were happy to share development advice. I practised, and learned how to develop my psychic, clairvoyant and mediumistic abilities, I learned how to read tarot, auras, I worked with crystal healers, Reiki healers.
To this day I still look for new things to learn. I found that as I learned and absorbed information from those who had more experience, I had lots of “me too” moments where what I was learning mirrored experiences I’d already had, or beliefs I was beginning to just “know”. To discover that others were having the same experiences and “knowings” was such validation to me that I was meant to follow this path.
I pursued all of this in my spare time; I was still doing day jobs and had gone from working in fashion, to the travel industry, to working as a housing officer for a London borough. I kept it very quiet that I was a medium, only trusting a select few colleagues. My family were shockingly very supportive when I “came out” as a medium! I discovered that both my grandmothers showed clairvoyant streaks, though they never would admit it!
I was very wary and still am sceptical about a lot of things I hear and read. Just because I believe in my own experiences does not mean I blindly believe in everything under the paranormal umbrella. I learned to trust myself and began keeping a journal to record thoughts, visions and meditation experiences, and found a lot of things did come to pass or that my instincts were right further on in time about situations or people I had just met.
Simon popped in from time to time in my daily meditations, and I was introduced to my first spirit guide, now I have five! When Simon or my guides came to me in meditation I acquired new knowledge about who we all really are.
I was amazed that Simon could speak eloquently with an intellect that surpassed mine. He showed me he had a life plan to experience the suffering intentionally in this life and told me that it was meant to be according to that life plan that he would go back Home to Spirit so young in our concept of time.
I was shown over the years since that we each choose if, when and how our lives are lived on the Earth plane, and that Simon had chosen a life of physical and mental challenge because he wanted to know what it was to walk a mile in those shoes, to gain understanding to help others.
We all do this, no matter how hard the life we choose to live. It really helped me to come to terms with losing loved ones as time went on. I know we will all meet again one day.
Simon also showed me that we all choose purpose and roles in the Spirit world, and that his mission in Spirit at present is as a “spiritual paramedic” – greeting and counselling those who cross back to Spirit suddenly and helping them to readjust to life on the other side.
In 1999, I sustained a serious leg injury which required 2 emergency surgeries to repair bones and soft tissues. I was unable to work for 3 months; I was on crutches for over a year. and it took me 2 years to walk properly again. To this day I can’t drive or walk far.
Unable to get about in those first months at home after the surgery, I needed to do something productive. It came to me that I could build a website dedicated to Simon’s memory, and my psychic experiences since losing him. I started to write and found I knew a lot more than I realised, and wanted to share it with people who might find themselves in the same situation. Starting the website with a single page gave me a purpose. It gave me a distraction at a very low time for me, but little did I know it would grow into a purpose for the rest of my life as the e-mails I receive and the readings I used to give and mentoring I give now helped people.
Simon’s visits aren’t as frequent now, but every so often he pops in, and I know he watches over me and sends help via my guides and other loved ones in Spirit.
For example, I know he had a hand in bringing me and my husband together, because I would never have been in the place we met in 1992 had Simon still been here.
I am also sure Simon sent someone to save my life in September 2000. I believe it was my very first encounter with an angel, even though I didn’t believe in them yet!
John was driving us to work, it was a rainy morning and we were on a dual carriageway when a car spun out of control across both lanes of the carriageway in front of us. There was another car between us and the spinning car, our brakes locked, skidding across the wet road for what seemed like an age, although the whole thing lasted just seconds.
I was stupidly not wearing my seatbelt, and remember just closing my eyes and thinking “oh no I had so much more to do!!”. In those seconds I felt sure I was about to die. We slammed into the back of that car still travelling at 45 mph according to the smashed speedometer afterwards.
John, being the wonderful man he is, threw his arm across me as far as he could when he realised we were going to crash, but I flew out of my seat… and suddenly felt another powerful arm holding me back on the passenger door side. It made no sense, but I know I felt that arm!
I should have flown through the windscreen, and did hit my head hard enough to break my nose, but I was saved. The car was a complete write off. John was fine, no injury at all, but he had to kick his way out of the door as the engine had been pushed so far back into the car.
When we saw just how bad the damage was afterwards, engine obliterated, car twisted…we both knew we had been saved. To this day I believe I was saved because it just wasn’t my time to go. I have been told by my guides that angelic interventions happen all the time to prevent untimely deaths, and yet that when it is your time to go according to the plan you wrote, nothing can or will prevent your death.
I took being saved as validation that I had a lot still to do and had to continue my work. I feel this intervention changed me even further, soon after I began to see angels with people and at roadsides, and began to see other people’s spirit guides during readings, and often got prompted to draw them for people.
I believe that my leg injury in 1999 then this accident almost a year later were the catalysts for me eventually becoming a full time spiritual worker.
I plucked up the courage to do my spiritual work full time. My health was poor, I was under pressure from my employer and I just had a moment of clarity – why was owning a house and clinging to material things so important? Would the world end if I let them go? After a talk with my husband, we agreed it was nonsense clinging to things that brought us no happiness, and we decided to sell up and move to the country so I could do my work in peace and quiet and not have to worry about making ends meet. We realised we could survive on very little if we had to, and so we sold or gave away a lot of our material things in order to make it happen. We have never been happier!
As good old synchronicity would have it, Rose, the medium who first told me I had ability, came back into my life in 2005, when I provided a reading for a man who turned out to be a member of her paranormal group. He had no idea I knew of Rose, he chose me to do a reading because he was drawn to me, having found my website. He could have chosen any of the thousands of online mediums out there. Was he guided to choose me? I believe so. It was only when we were chatting about paranormal investigation at the end of the reading that it became apparent we both knew Rose, I told him how we met, and asked him to pass on my regards to her. Rose got in touch with me within a week, and we became good friends.
It was like coming full circle for me, the final seal of approval from Spirit that I was on the right path for life now. I know it was meant to be that we met again, as she died shortly after in early 2006. She told me soon after we met again, that I had made her very proud by choosing this path, and that if she died tomorrow she would die a happy woman knowing she had helped to set me on this path in some small way. I never thought she would leave so soon, but it was her time. She has been in touch since she crossed over, so I know she is fine and still has her great sense of humour – she made a camera start up on its own on a paranormal investigation in October 2006, and when John and I reviewed the video footage days later, we heard her voice on tape faintly saying, “Rachel, it’s me!” just before the camera incident. I will never forget her or the comfort she brought me after Simon died, before I ever knew I was a potential medium.
In more recent times, I’ve made a few “hindsight” discoveries which showed me I had the ability since birth, as we all do to varying degrees.
I was talking with my mum a few years back about the street where we used to live when I was tiny. I asked her about Rebecca, the girl I remembered from a few doors down who would play with me on the swing in our garden when I was 3 or 4 years old. My mum had no idea who I was talking about! But Rebecca is one of my most vivid early childhood friends; memories of her were part of my childhood! How could my mum not know her? She was in our garden all summer with me!
I knew she lived a few doors away on our street, I could pinpoint her house… and we would giggle and laugh on the swing! I realised quickly that this was a spirit child, because when I really thought about it, I couldn’t remember ever seeing her arrive or leave. And she was there in the same dress each time.
I love my weird and wonderful life, I owe it all to Simon. I now know he and I agreed a shared purpose before we decided to come to this life, and I will continue the good work for as long as I am able.
To make a donation in Simon’s memory to support the National Society for Epilepsy for research into finding an end to epilepsy, and providing practical support for the families of those living with epilepsy please follow this link: https://www.epilepsysociety.org.uk <3