Simon Cumbers, who was murdered by gunmen on Sunday 6th June in Saudi Arabia, was one of a new breed of journalist cameramen. His career took him from reporting for pirate radio in Ireland to filming world-wide for international broadcasters.
Simon was killed while filming for BBC News and Current Affairs in Suweidi, a suburb of Riyadh. He was working with BBC security correspondent, Frank Gardner, when both were fired on by suspected al-Qaeda terrorists.
Simon was an unusual breed among television journalists, as someone who had moved from in front of the camera, to behind it. He was a top class operator and his reputation was high around the world. The response from international news organisations from almost every country in the world has been overwhelming.
Simon grew up in rural Ireland, in Navan among a close family. His first job in journalism was as a reporter for local papers, including the Meath Chronicle, before moving into pirate radio. As a reporter for Dublin’s Capital 104.4 FM Radio, he came to the notice of ITN while covering the release of Brian Keenan in the Lebanon and the fall of Ceausescu in Romania.
When ITN launched Channel Four Daily, he was hired as a reporter but was tempted away by the newly formed television news agency, APTV, who offered the opportunity to train as a cameraman.
In 1998 he set up Locum Productions with his wife, freelance television journalist, Louise Bevan. They worked closely together to build up the company, which is based in Brentford, West London, and provides multi-skilled camera operators and journalists for news organisations all over the world.
Simon is remembered for being highly organised and super-energetic; a journalist through and through, but also an entrepreneur. An APTN colleague, Ciaran McQuillan describes being camped outside Stormont in the days before Good Friday. She said: “He kept our spirits up with his cheery smile and a bit of a crack about the catering the Northern Ireland Office laid on.”
BBC 10 o’clock news special correspondent, Ben Brown, recalls their many trips together and said of him: “Working with Simon was always a ball, even in the most tedious moment of the most tedious assignment.
“The only tiny comfort I cling to is that he died doing a job he loved.”
Simon Cumbers is remembered at the Journalists altar at St Brides Church, Fleet Street, London EC4.