A Welsh woman has been widowed at 25 after her childhood “soulmate” died suddenly just seven weeks after their wedding. Lucy Hesford-Buckingham married her partner of nine years, Simon, on January 2, 2022.
Tragically, the newlyweds’ time together was cut short, after Simon – who had been battling autoimmune hepatitis – was admitted to intensive care just weeks after the couple tied the knot. Within three weeks of their “dream wedding”, the 27-year-old had gone into organ failure, and sadly died a month later on February 22.
Devastated wife Lucy has paid tribute to Simon, who she described as “the most giving and caring person I’ve ever met”. The couple, who lived in Neath, met when Lucy was 16 and Simon was 18 and had remained together ever since, Wales Online reports.
Simon had been living with, and managing, his autoimmune hepatitis since diagnosis four years ago. However, his condition deteriorated after a change in medication last year and he spent time in and out of hospital in the last months of his life.
The pair were due to marry in December 2021 but postponed the wedding due to Simon’s illness. “I think we always knew it would have an impact on his life, but we didn’t know it would take his life,” said Lucy.
“He was ill for a while. We had to postpone the wedding once because he couldn’t do it, he was in hospital then. We had the wedding in January and he just got bad again after that.”
Lucy said ultimately Simon’s liver stopped working due to his condition which in turn had an impact on the rest of his organs. She said he was admitted to Morriston Hospital on January 21, 2022, but after time in an induced coma Simon died on February 22 of multiple organ failure.
After being admitted to hospital Simon was placed in intensive care and was treated with dialysis, he was then placed in an induced coma for two weeks. Lucy said that at first it appeared as though Simon’s condition was improving, however, he then deteriorated rapidly.
“In the coma they [hospital staff] brought him off everything to try and wake him up naturally. And he did start to wake up. I was sitting there and he wasn’t able to talk because he had a pipe in his mouth but he was able to shake his head and, you know, we were having quite coherent conversations. Even though he was only shaking his head or nodding, but then it all just deteriorated within the space of two days,” she said.
“I have to say they were amazing. All the nurses and the consultants were absolutely amazing to him I can’t fault them. They all came to the funeral as well which was lovely.”
Lucy said until October Simon was coping with his condition well. “He was absolutely fine, he was perfect. We were going to the gym all the time. He was the fit one out of the two of us. But then they tried different medication – added some more in to see if it would give a good influence – and it all went downhill.”
The pair, who lived in Crynant, Dulais Valley, married on January 2 in Craig-y-Nos Castle in what Lucy described as the “perfect day”. She said that although Simon was ill on the day it was important for him that they married.
“It was so nice, it was amazing,” said Lucy. “Simon was ill on the day and he was kind of resting and to be fair his best man was looking after him all day. But he was there for all the most important bits, he was there for the majority of the time.
“It was just so nice, it was perfect, it was intimate. So many people have said ‘it was the best wedding I have ever been to’ and I know people just say that but it was genuinely so relaxed. That’s what me and Simon wanted. We wanted it to be really chilled and no formality. It was really really relaxed.”
“He was so chuffed that we did it. And I think he would have tried to get well for the first time to have it because he was just so adamant that we were going to get married.
“I think part of you will always think ‘they must’ve known they were going to pass away’, so part of me thinks he knew and that’s why he wanted to get married but you never know do you.” Lucy said that despite the pair meeting when they were young, their relationship was “perfect”.
She said: “When everyone puts their relationship on social media they try to portray it as perfect, but I never felt like I needed to do that because I knew what we had was perfect. And that’s the saddest thing. Our relationship was genuinely perfect. I can’t think of any bad patches or anything like that. It was always so steady from when I met him aged 16.
“So many people came up to me and said that we were more than a couple, we were perfect for each other. We had a therapist, she used to be his therapist, and then she was mine and she used to say that we were – and still are – so fusional together. And I think that’s a really good word to describe our relationship.”
“Simon was the most giving person you would ever meet. He was so caring. Everyone gravitated towards him because he was so calm,” she said. “He was a therapist and he had this craft where he could sit there with you, rearrange your thoughts, and get you a better view on life in minutes. It was immaculate the way he would do it.
“He wouldn’t say much but he would say everything. The best thing about Simon was the way he had with people. You’d sit there and talk to Simon and within minutes you will have revealed your innermost secrets without realising you had because he just had that way of making you feel it was safe to talk about anything.”
Lucy said the pair were “inseparable” and had only spent the evening before the wedding apart in the last six months of his life. Just over a month since Simon’s death, Lucy said she is still processing what has happened.
“I don’t know what I’m doing. It’s been a month and still day to day I couldn’t tell you what I’ve done. I think I am going through trauma just as much now as I was then. The way my brain is coping with it is to zone out. Obviously because I was in hospital with him the flashbacks I am having are horrific. As soon as it happens I feel like I zone out for what feels like ages,” she said.
“I just don’t know what I’m doing. For example I was the driver and Simon would navigate. Now I’m in the car and I don’t know where I’m going, I don’t know how to get anywhere. It’s the little things like I don’t know what to put on the TV because Simon was the remote holder. It’s the little things that you depend on your other half for and when they’re not there you don’t know what to do.
“If someone had said to me when I was put on this world, ‘do you want nine years of perfection with a soul mate or 40 years of a mundane relationship with someone who fits the bill’ I would have picked Simon every time. It sounds ridiculous but I genuinely consider myself lucky that I was able to have Simon for as long as I did. And I’m so thankful he had me as well. We were soulmates and twin flames and everything like that, it was evident.
“Right now I’m trying to focus on the positive part of it but I know that is going to come crashing down. There is a degree of numbness at the moment.”
Lucy has now started a charity in memory of Simon who had recently completed a degree that would allow him to be a counsellor. She said that Simon was passionate about providing young people who are autistic and neurodivergent with accessible therapy, something he struggled to find.
Simon worked alongside the Kimel foundation and had undertaken a course with them and they were later going to take him on as a counsellor. Lucy said: “They work with young neurodivergent autistic people haven’t really got a chance.
So they come from like low-income backgrounds, much like Simon did. And they are not able to access funding for therapy or for a type of education they would be more comfortable with rather than traditional schooling.
“It’s just to open doors for young autistic or neurodivergent people. Simon just wanted to help people. He said ‘when I graduate I don’t want to work for money, I feel like I’ve taken money for something I could do for free’. He just wanted to help and would give anything to help someone.”
Lucy said she will be a trustee of the charity and it will be housed by the Kimel foundation. “I just know it is the best way to carry on what he wanted to do because it’s going to make a difference,” she said.
“I know he would be so happy about that. Because this is what he wanted to make a change with, access to therapy. Some people aren’t privileged enough to be able to afford private therapy and I know that was the case for him until he was older so we want to make that accessible. He was just the most caring person who would do absolutely anything for anyone.”
Lucy and Simon’s family would gratefully receive donations in his memory to the Kimel Foundation who will be part of the charity in memory of Simon.