I found out Simon Bishop died today. He was a kind and generous man, and I barely new him, save through Twitter and Facebook. In fact, I only got to meet him IRL three times.
I first noticed him as I watched the Atheist Bus JustGiving page get bigger and bigger, with his name frequently appearing, with very large donations - if you visit the site now you'll see his last donation on the front page.
With all the atheist/humanist twitterers I already followed, his name popped up in my feed, and I followed him and thanked him for the his support of the BHA campaign. He was a vocal anti-theist, and I was much more vocal about atheism then, so we got on pretty quickly. That was 7 odd years ago, when his followers were few. That year I did a Three Peaks/55 Mile/Chicago Marathon challenge in 2009, which I naturally tweeted about. I was overwhelmed to receive ~£850 from Simon over the course of the year. Initially, he
Such surprising generosity, as we had only ever interacted through twitter.
When I saw via twitter (naturally) that we were both in London at the same time I arranged to meet him as I wanted to buy him a drink and say thank you. Of course, he bought the drinks, but it was great to have a chat and and to say thank you in person. At that point, he had donated £400.
The next time I met him was up in Leeds, again, we had coincidentally ended up in the same city at the same time. We both shared a mutual friend of a friend too, and all ended up having breakfast at the end of the weekend. Naturally he paid.
He also bought my wife an iPad - he made an offer on twitter to buy people iPads, and with my wife's laptop having recently died, and it being a good distraction that helps with her depression, I jumped at the chance.
Of course there was much more to Simon than his material generosity. He said on Facebook "I have some very good friends who need help. Some need emotional help (which I'm crap at) and some need financial help (which I'm good at)." One only need look at the tributes on Twitter and Facebook to see that he was much better at the emotional help than he realised.
I am glad that the last time I met Simon I was able to thank him for that in person too, and that we had a good long chat about life, the universe and everything. He really did enjoy hearing how he had helped.
The last thing he said to me was that it was really nice to get to know me a lot better and that he looked forward to more of it with his more frequent trips to Chichester. Sadly, that was two years ago.
I am sorry that I won't be able to tell him how my unborn bady likes to kick about to music played to her from the iPad he bought.
I didn't know him well, but he left a big impression on me. I can't imagine the grief for those who were much closer to him.
The world is not as good as it was now that he has gone.