TO say Stephen Simmins lived life to the full is something of an understatement.
The 42-year-old’s friend list was endless, as was his love for his adoring family, particularly wife Suzanne and daughter Gabby.
Tragically though, his life was one that would be cut devastatingly short.
“Simmo”, as he was affectionately known by his many friends, was a fit and healthy father-of-one so his sudden death, caused by an undiagnosed problem with the left ventricle in his heart, has shocked and totally devastated all who knew him.
Today, on the eve of his funeral, his beloved wife of 15 years has paid an emotional tribute to her “soul mate and best friend.”
The pair had known each other since their days at Pemberton middle school but only got together when they left.
“Stephen used to always come and sit next to me in classes and torment me,” recalled Suzanne, at the family home in Dawson Avenue, off Gidlow Lane.
“We left school and met up again on a bus, I can see it like it was yesterday, with his leg up asking what I was doing at the weekend.
“He could talk to people about anything, he loved life and that’s what is so unfair. He lived it to the full.
“We moved into this house in 1995 and didn’t have a penny when my uncle Jack left it to my mum and we cherished it and got married in 1999 in a beautiful castle in Scotland with all our friends and family around us.
“Then our Gabby came along and she was the light of his life, he did everything with her. He was the perfect dad.”
Stephen was a flooring technical manager for Tremco, a place where he had worked since he left school.
It was a job he loved and in which he made many friends. Another passion in his life was golf but no matter what, his family was his priority.
As well as Suzanne and 12-year-old Gabby, Stephen was also a beloved son and brother.
On Suzanne’s side of the family, he was a cherished in-law and even took in her niece as one of his own.
“I lost my sister Elaine when she was 41 and he was so supportive,” added Suzanne.
“Elaine had a little girl, Holly, who he just treated as his own. He used to take her to ballet, she just thought of him as her second dad.
“She lives with my mum and dad but she may as well have lived here, he was so proud of both of his girls.”
That much was evident just a month before he died at home when Holly went to Greece with Stephen, Suzanne and Gabby.
Poignantly, it was the country that Stephen and Suzanne went to for their first holiday.
Usually though, holidays included the whole extended family with trips all over the world.
Gabby also paid an emotional tribute to her father, saying: “He was the perfect dad, we did absolutely everything together.
“He’d even let me paint his nails!
“He was nice to everyone. If you were nice to him he would do anything for you.
“He was so funny and was always making jokes to make everyone laugh.
“I was out on the day he died but before I left he picked me up, span me around and told me to go and have a good time.
“He was the best dad.”
A celebration of Stephen’s life will take place tomorrow at St Jude’s RC Church at 12.30pm prior to committal at Charnock Richard Crematorium.
The family have requested for no black ties to be worn.