Moving tributes paid to North Yorkshire Judge Simon Hawkesworth described by colleagues as a 'class act'

Tributes have been paid to a North Yorkshire judge who had a "stellar" legal career and who was described by his colleagues as a "class act", known for being "fair, courteous and just".

His Honour Judge Simon Hawkesworth pictured back in 1999 on the day of his appointment to the Circuit Bench. taken in 1999 on the day of his appointment to the Circuit Bench -

A special eulogy was held for His Honour Judge Simon Hawkesworth QC at York Crown Court following his death at the age of 77.

Led by the Recorder of York, His Honour Judge Sean Morris, dozens of judges past and present, along with Judge Hawkesworth's family attended in person and virtually to celebrate his "stellar" career.

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Judge Hawkesworth sat in judgement from 1999 to his retirement in 2011 after a successful career as a barrister, that included nine years as head of York Chambers.

Judge Morris said: “He was a much loved judge, he was fair, he was courteous and he was just.

"We have all been deprived of the company of a powerful intellect, of a Bon Vivant, and a much loved husband, father of four proud boys and a friend.

“His memory will be cherished by all.”

Among the many listening to the eulogy from across the country were Judge Hawkesworth's family, including his wife May, sons Tom, Edward, Charlie and Henry, and brother Judge Gareth Hawkesworth, along with the Recorder of Leeds, Judge Guy Kearl QC, Judge Peter Collier QC and Judge Stephen Ashurst.

Judge Hawkesworth was called to the Bar by Gray’s Inn in 1967. He was appointed as an assistant recorder in 1980 and recorder in 1982. He represented many families during the 1987 Cleveland Child Abuse Inquiry.

He headed York Chambers from its foundation in 1990 until he became a circuit judge in 1999.

The current head of Chambers, now known as Dere Street Barristers, and former colleague John Elvidge QC described Judge Hawkesworth as a "magnet for the top end civil work'' and said he was recognised as "one of the legal stars of his generation".

Judge Elvidge said: "Thanks to his example and leadership Chambers thrived and his staff remember him fondly.

"He was also loved and respected by his colleagues on the bench and by court staff."

Judge Hawkesworth studied law at The Queen's College in Oxford, but it was there he also found a passion for acting and where he met and became a friend of actor and comedian Michael Palin, who he remained in contact with just days before his death.

Judge Hawksworth moved back to North Yorkshire following his early career to be closer to his family. His uncle worked as a solicitor in Malton.

Judge Morris said: "His home life and happy life in North Yorkshire always came first.

"His memory will be cherished by all who knew him and I would like to offer our sincerest condolences to his family. I will always be thankful to have known such a great man."

Judge Hawkesworth retired in 2011 and continued with his passion of amateur dramatics and sang with the Harrogate Choral Society, as well as gardening and spending time with his family.

During his retirement he also became a trustee of the Crossroads charity.

Despite falling ill last year, Judge Hawkesworth carried on entertaining friends, when lockdown restrictions would allow.

Just days before his death he was reading plays with his friends over zoom.

Judge Elvidge said: "He was quite simply a class act."