The life of Simon Ferrari should have read like a tragedy. In fact it was a triumph of the human will over appalling adversity, victory for indomitable courage over the frailties of a wrecked body and the spirit of laughter over misery.
Simon, who died last week, aged 51, was the middle son of Lino "Dan" Ferrari, the Daily Mirror’s legendary night news editor of the Sixties and founder of the Ferrari of Dartford news agency. He was a clever, funny teenager, heading for big things. Then he went to see a play in Oxford with a group of school friends. The car in which he was a passenger crashed and Simon was catapulted out of the rear seat into a lamppost.
He was unconscious for weeks in King’s College Hospital, Denmark Hill, and at one stage his parents were asked to donate his heart for a transplant. They refused, and anyone who has been privileged to witness a full-scale Dan Ferrari bollocking will understand why the brutal system of targeting transplant donors that existed in those days was never quite the same again.
Simon’s recovery was little short of miraculous. From being given up on by all except his devoted family, within a comparatively short time he was taking his A levels, aided by his mother Joyce, the real Ferrari family tower of strength, as Dan was the first to admit.
He joined the Mirror newsroom as a casual reporter 32 years ago. He was often in great pain, but he was always smiling, always ready with a joke and seemingly indestructible. In spite of his terrible injuries and the ruin of his life hardly before it begun, he was man for whom the sun always shone. And those of us who knew him can count ourselves lucky we were able to bathe in its warmth.