Vale Simon Mamouney - Passing of former Chamber board member and Deputy Head of Mission at the Australian Embassy in Ireland.
When I got the call yesterday with the sad news that Simon Mamouney had tragically lost his life in a road accident, I was deflated. A man in his 40s with a talented, supportive wife and two wonderful kids, just back in Canberra after an influential spell in Ireland, this wasn't right, this shouldn't happen.
Then as I thought of some of the times we had shared I couldn't help but smile, bacause that's what Simon always did, he made you smile. Even when things were tense, challenging, seemingly unravelling and being rebuilt on the run, there was still that glint in the eye. The unencumbered joy he took from simple things like his plans for winning a pavlova making competition around Australia Day, hustling at tennis, helping support a women's AFL competition in Ireland, bringing his own unique style of cricket to the pitches of Ireland - and that day he decided not to wear a helmet when batting in the ANZAC day game, got hit, went to hospital and still laughed about it.
But Simon was also a serious operator in his working life. Arriving into post in Ireland in the midst of the Brexit vote and subsequent fallout would have made for an interesting paper round. When a group of us were collaborating on bringing an EABC delegation to Ireland, led by Minister Cormann, his quietly effective and relentless efforts ensured we had an outstanding programme during the trip. And who of us, who were there, could forget the rain making a guest appearance in Dublin as we walked between meetings? Our man was there, with a seemingly endless supply of umbrellas, leading the conga line of diplomats, ministers and business people around the streets like a rather unusual, eclectic tour group! His skills and the respect in which he was held by his colleagues were evident on this and subsequent delegations when, as we'd arrive at a meeting, sometimes meetings we thought we'd not even get in place, he was greeted warmly and with the familiarity that only comes from close working relationships.
One incident that came to mind as I reflected on our journey with Simon was around the Australia Day Lunch preparations a couple of years ago. It's one of our most important events of the year and would have had me stressing when most Down Under were at the beach, hoping we'd got everything under control before heading to Dublin for the final prep. This particular year, I turned up to meet Simon at the Embassy to run through a few final tweaks, jetlagged and elevated pulse as normal. I'd brought him his requested Milo and Jelly Snakes "for the kids" and had also brought 300 Tim Tams with me for guests at the lunch. One snag though, we'd had a late surge in bookings while I was en route from Melbourne, and we now didn't have enough to go around. In true Crocodile Dundee style, he looked at my boxes of Tim Tams and said in his best ocker, "Call that Tim Tams?" as he went to the office cupboard and with that trademark smile, opened the doors with the clincher, "These are Tim Tams!" as he revealed a display that would have passed muster at the IGA. In that moment, the pressure evaporated and we shared a heartier laugh than I think would normally be deemed acceptable on that side of the airlock.
So that's the Simon I was privileged to have spent time with. Smart, capable, respected, reliable, humble and always ready to save us from taking ourselves too seriously.
My condolences, and those of all in the Chamber who had the pleasure of knowing Simon, go to Bindi, Mia and Charlie at this difficult time. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all.
And to Simon, we we will find a suitable way in which to honour your memory and contribution, but for now, rest in peace mate.