Heartfelt tributes to a much-loved Ribble Valley fell runner, long-distance cyclist and caver who died in Cumbria tragedy
Friends of West Bradford man Simon Halliday (49), who died after getting trapped in a flooded cave during a diving expedition, have spoken of his absolute dedication to running, fitness and endurance.
The body of the father-of-two, who completed some of the toughest, hardest races in the fell running calendar, was pulled from a cave at Lancaster Hole, near Kirkby Lonsdale - one of England's largest underground networks - in the early hours of Sunday morning after a 10-hour search operation.
The 49-year-old, a member of Clayton-Le-Moors Harriers who "was always keen to seek out and conquer the next challenge, lived with his wife Toni, son Connor and daughter Isabella and was visiting Casterton Fell on a cave diving trip when he tragically died.
Cumbria police called The Cave Rescue Organisation (CRO) after reports a man had not returned from Lancaster Hole. A huge search operation, involving 40 rescuers from the CRO and members of the Cave Diving Group (CDG) was undertaken after the call from Cumbria police.
Simon's untimely death has shocked and saddened his loved ones, friends and well-wishers from across East Lancashire. Clayton Harriers, one of the areas largest running clubs, has also paid tribute saying he took to fell running "like a duck to water".
A spokesman said: "Simon brought his infectious enthusiasm to Clayton-Le-Moors Harriers in January 2004. He was already an established and highly competent caver, but was keen to improve his fitness and endurance. Referring to himself as 'a fat caver often found at the bar', he took to fell running like a duck to water and was always keen to seek out and conquer the
next challenge. He transformed his fitness and completed some of the toughest, hardest races in the fell running calendar, including the Yorkshire Three Peaks, Langdale, Borrowdale, Wasdale, the Bens of Jura and Old County Tops with relative ease. A willing group of Clayton runners joined Simon’s Lake District training regime which became focused on tackling the famous Bob Graham Round, BGR, (72 miles, 42 summits, 29,000 feet of climbing and descending in less than 24 hours). This was a challenge that Clayton-Le-Moors Harriers has a long and proud tradition in. In May 2007, Simon supported by his team, duly completed a summer round in weather and circumstances that were quite challenging on the day. Not content with that, Simon announced that he was going to attempt another BGR in the cold and darkness of winter, hoping to be only the 10th person to do so. So, on December 22nd, 2007, (the shortest day of the year) the team was mustered again and an epic run began. The weather was challenging from the outset with ice, snow, and mist making progress difficult. At halfway
Simon was some way behind schedule and the consensus was that a successful round could not be achieved. However, Simon thought otherwise. So, over the next dozen hours the
schedule was gradually clawed back and Simon sprinted to the finish at the Moot Hall in Keswick, with three minutes to spare! Simon wrote proudly and passionately of his BG experiences with the 'Clayton BG Machine'. Afterwards, Simon continued to be an active fell runner with Clayton for several years, always seeking out and completing new challenges such as the Three Peaks Yacht race and the Scottish Islands Race. Then gradually other challenges appeared on the horizon and Simon moved on to be a successful Triathlete, Ironman, long distance cyclist and finally a caver again. In his day job he was a master builder and worked in the family business. He always kept in touch with Clayton Harriers and as recently as November last year, had a run with Barley Badgers, Clayton’s Tuesday training night group of headtorch fell runners, of which he was a founder member.
"Whatever Simon turned his attention to he did so 100% and he did it well. He leaves a wife Toni, a son Connor and a daughter Isabella. Our thoughts are with them. Simon will be very fondly remembered and is very sadly missed."