Earlier this summer marked the last day of work for Simon Lewis, founder and long-time programme leader of our BSc (Hons) Sound, Light and Live Event Technology course here at the University of Derby. Simon was central in the development and launch of the program in the late-1990s and expertly guided the course through many changes to the organization as well as to higher education in the UK. Through it all, the program maintained it’s reputation as one of the best in the UK and inspired many similar courses to pop up at other universities. At the time of his retirement, the programme was celebrating its third consecutive year achieving 100% in the National Student Survey (NSS).

Simon (circa 1979) demonstrating how he keeps busy outside of his day job

It’s fairly safe to say that Simon has educated a significant portion of professionals in the live event industry in the UK who hold a university degree. When attending trade shows such as PLASA, with Simon it’s like you’re in the presence of royalty. Everyone knows him and many people at the stands and in the crowd are his former students.

For those of you doing the math, you’ll realize that Simon only started educating on the live event side a little past the halfway point in his career. Before then, he worked in the chemistry and geology departments. This almost certainly led to Simon’s near encyclopedic knowledge of standards, regulations and everything health and safety.

So what do you do for a colleague who is retiring after such a long and successful career? Well, in Simon’s case, we more or less had a month’s long retirement party starting with a few low-key trips to the pub and ending with an all-out bash at the Academy Bar at the university, attended by many current and former students, there to see Simon off in style.

Reminiscing with Derby lecturer, Duncan Werner, at an early retirement celebration (top) and the backdrop for the final retirement bash in July (bottom)

As a surprise to absolutely no one, mere weeks after his retirement, Simon was back to work teaching the next generation of live event engineers. He helped to supervise a number of our students who were running a stage at Green Man Festival in collaboration with long-time friends of Derby, SFL. Seeing that Simon still lives just down the road from the university, we’d expect (and hope) he’s not going to be a stranger!

SFL crew (including Simon and many Derby students) at Green Man Festival (photo courtesy of SFL)

Massive congratulations to Simon on his retirement! We’ll all miss you here at the university!

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