Tributes to Sheffield pioneering scientist

Simon Pickvance
Simon Pickvance
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TRIBUTES have been paid to a Sheffield scientist who dedicated the bulk of his life to health and safety work before being diagnosed with an industrial disease himself.

Simon Pickvance, a key figure in occupational health in the city, has died aged 63, two years after he was told he was suffering from mesothelioma.

The Birmingham-born father-of-three studied zoology at Cambridge University before moving to Sheffield in 1974.

Despite being driven by a desire to put his education and scientific training to good use, initially he began labouring as a builder.

It was at this time he was exposed to the asbestos which caused his mesothelioma.

After witnessing health and safety issues firsthand, he helped found the Sheffield Occupational Advisory Service.

The first session, at a Darnall working men’s club, attracted queues of steelworkers.

His work saw him help thousands of people with compensation claims, including miners and steelworkers who suffered hearing loss.

Simon, of Crookesmoor, was forced to retire following his diagnosis, but continued his research, examining links between the region’s steelworks and bladder cancer.

His son Sol, 24, said: “He never said it was ironic he ended up getting a disease which was so central to the work he did in his campaigning, he just said it was cruel – it is a great cruelty when workers are made to work in an unsafe environment.

“He was an unassuming guy so sometimes you forget how important his work was.

“He was a well-respected figure in Sheffield. His politics drove him. He wanted to make science useful.”

Simon also enjoyed walking, wildlife and spending time with wife Mandy, 54, and children Sol, Ella, 23, and 20-year-old Benny.

Sol said: “He had a great love of his family.”