Editor’s Note by Ralph Stuart
This past January we gathered to remember Simon Clode. It was the second day of the Dallas Safari Club Convention, and at the show’s close we met in a pub across the street from the convention hall. The get-together was the idea of photographer Terry Allen, who had whipped up invitations and walked the show floor handing them to people he thought would appreciate an opportunity to pay their final respects. “A gathering of friends to raise a glass in honor of the Bishop of Pritchett Street,” the invitation read.
Simon was the Chairman and Managing Director of gunmaker Westley Richards—and one of the most influential individuals in modern gunmaking. He passed away just before Christmas following a courageous battle with cancer. John Gregson’s “official” obituary appears on page 20, but I wanted to add my thoughts regarding the man who did so much for the fine-gun trade.
I will not be so bold as to say that Simon and I were friends. We were more colleagues who shared an appreciation for “best” guns and a desire to see the industry grow. In truth, I found Simon a bit hard to approach, but beneath a gruff exterior he was always gracious and personable and quick to smile. He had a fondness for colorful language and being brutally honest and was never shy about offering his opinions of the magazine. But Simon was also one of the biggest supporters of Shooting Sportsman. He placed great value on the power of marketing and forced us to think about the legitimacy of SSM and its readership.
The fact that Westley Richards is today so successful is thanks to not only Simon’s business acumen but also his chops as a gunmaker. He figured out how to marry technology with modern craft skills, and he surrounded himself with workers who were able to produce guns and rifles to his high standards.
No one knew this better than Anthony Alborough-Tregear (aka Trigger), Simon’s right-hand man at Westley’s. That night at the pub Trigger climbed atop the bar and said a few heartfelt words about his former boss before raising his glass and making a rousing toast.
Then it was Terry Allen’s turn. Terry had become good friends with Simon through various photo shoots and when Terry shot the images for the book Westley Richards & Co.—In Pursuit of the Best Gun. Terry told of how a few days before Simon passed, he was in the UK and visited Simon in his home. Simon was unable to get out of his chair, so Terry bought a bottle of whisky and cooked dinner, and the two of them sat and listened to the new Rolling Stones album “about five times.” He wanted everyone to know that Simon did not go lightly and enjoyed himself till the end.
Now that was something to raise a glass to.
Ralph P. Stuart
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On the cover: Dan O'Connor at George Hi Plantation, photographed by Terry Allen