Tributes to champion sportsman,15
A CHAMPION sportsman who died of a heart attack aged just 15 will be buried next to the sister he never knew, his parents said.Talented actor and tennis player Simeon Jones, from Castle Hedingham, battled throughout his life knowing a weakness in his heart could kill him at any time.
A CHAMPION sportsman who died of a heart attack aged just 15 will be buried next to the sister he never knew, his parents said.
Talented actor and tennis player Simeon Jones, from Castle Hedingham, battled throughout his life knowing a weakness in his heart could kill him at any time.
His parents, Maurice and Angie, last night said they were "thankful" for the short life of their beloved son, who died after playing a game with his brother in their garden last week.
It was the second time tragedy has struck their home. In 1985, as the family travelled on holiday, a truck jack-knifed and smashed into their car, killing their four-year-old daughter, Emily.
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Three years later, Simeon was born. But when he was just five months old doctors discovered his heart was leaking and had a murmur.
A leading surgeon operated while the baby's family prayed with friends.
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He survived, but was left with a patch sewn into his heart, something he knew he could one day outgrow.
Each year, the popular Hedingham School pupil had to return to hospital to see how he was progressing.
On September 11, 2001, however, doctors at Broomfield Hospital, Chelmsford, said he was doing so well he would not have to return for another three years.
His mother said this year had been "brilliant" for him, starring in a play at Sudbury's Quay Theatre and winning tennis tournaments both in Braintree and at school and also at his local club.
His parents said he was following in the footsteps of his sporty 23-year-old bother Ben, who survived the tragic car crash in Sudbury 18 years ago.
But last Saturday, while messing around in the garden with Ben and some of his university friends, the fun-loving teenager said he felt faint.
He collapsed and was taken to Broomfield Hospital, but died two days later.
His mother Mrs Jones, 49, said: "We knew there was always a risk he could go. We're just grateful we had 15 years with him.
"The operation as a baby was very difficult and we feel lucky he survived that. He lived his life to the full and tried to play down his heart problem, keeping it to himself.
"He also did some work at the Eden Project in Sudbury and helped run a holiday camp for kids - he was a real star.
"He was always taking centre stage, making people laugh, a bit of a nut-case really. He adored the Mr Bean character and would always mimic his silly faces."
"We're going to miss him, but one day we'll see his smile again," she said.
Maurice Jones, 50, said his family's strong Christian faith had helped carry them through their tragedies.
He said: "When Emily died, people were so supportive, but they can't meet the deeper needs you have. Now we just want to celebrate Simeon's life. "We're going to lay him to rest next to Emily and that will be difficult - we loved them both very much."
Alan Mitchell, joint director of A Journey's End at the Quay Theatre, in which Simeon played the part of a German soldier in March, said he was "devastated" by the news. He had just been looking at a card Simeon sent him after the play, he said.
"He was a good actor - and he could sing too. He was an absolutely marvellous boy," he added.
Simeon's "non-conventional, but celebratory" funeral will take place at 2.30pm at St Nicholas Church, Castle Hedingham, on Thursday
. The family have asked any donations be made African Aids orphans charity HOPE/ HIV.