Farewell Simon Kverndal - 14 June 2020
Abridged from Michael Howard QC's and Ed Hyde's tributes
Simon Kverndal QC, a great friend of Real Tennis and Rackets, passed away, far too young at 62, on Sunday 14th June, peacefully, and surrounded by his immediate family. Simon lived with his long illnesses and fought it courageously; he also bore his affliction with discretion and with cheerfulness. Until very recently, he kept the awareness of the illness from which he had been suffering for more than two years from all but a few, and even then he was always upbeat and cheerful. For Simon, his chemotherapy clinic was a â€œcocktail loungeâ€.
Though in many ways a typical English gentleman, he was ultimately of Norwegian heritage. His family were part of the shipping industry for several generations, and one branch had come to England and settled here in the 19th century. But he remained proud of his Norwegian roots. Most summers he went with his family to the lakeside cabin in Norway.
From Haileybury, Simon went up to Sidney Sussex College, where he read History & Law. During his four years at Cambridge (1977-1981), he represented
the University at both Rackets and Real Tennis, captaining the Real Tennis side for two years and earning a Half-Blue.
Upon graduating from Cambridge, he joined Quadrant Chambers in 1984, subsequently becoming incredibly well-renowned in maritime litigation and arbitration. Having read through some tributes from his colleagues, not only was Simonâ€™s expertise and efficiency valued, but his energetic and caring character was clearly treasured by those who worked with him.
Outside his profession, he was a great lover of Rackets. Not only a well-respected player, he supported the game in numerous ways - serving on many committees, whilst also being the President of Cambridge University Rackets Club (CURC) for six years. During this time period, Simonâ€™s contribution to CURC was considerable. From turning up to annual dinners armed with bottles of vintage port and highly amusing stories, to making his presence felt in the viewing gallery at Varsity Matches â€“ his company was always eagerly anticipated.
During the 2019/20 season, he attended both the Alumni and Varsity Matches at Queenâ€™s, proudly wearing his Hawksâ€™ tie. As usual, Simonâ€™s passion for Rackets and CURC was palpable, eager to get to know and catch up with the Cambridge team, whilst offering some vocal support to the Light Blues from the gallery. This was all despite being in the middle of chemotherapy treatment â€“ you would never have guessed.
Simon was a member of many clubs: Hawks, Queenâ€™s Club, the MCC, the Jesters, a T&RA Benefactor, the Garrick and the Honourable Company of Shipwrights.
These highlight his sporting prowess. The Garrick and the Shipwrights were places where he could use his enormous talent for friendship, for bonhomie
without superficiality, for wide-ranging conversation and for charm at all times. It was a matter of great pride to him that he had become Prime Warden
of the Shipwrights this year, and it is sad indeed that he was unable to complete his term of office.
He was well-known for his real expertise in matters of wine. He had a half-blue for wine-tasting as well as a blue for Real Tennis. He served on the wine committees of the Garrick, the Shipwrights and of the Middle Temple where he was a Bencher.
Simon was a serious professional; a hardworking and popular silk. Having always been a diligent and hardworking advocate, he had become a very effective arbitrator, renowned for his pleasantness and efficiency and, an unusual gift, for getting the right answer. Relatively recently he had started to act as mediator and his personal qualities were generating a rapidly growing and enthusiastic following.
This was a full life indeed. For all his love of wine, music, friends, sport and conviviality, Simonâ€™s chief interest and concern at all times was his family. No-one who knew him could doubt that the centre of his focus was Sophie, along with his two sons, Thor and Finn. We all share in their sad loss.
Simonâ€™s infectious enthusiasm, liveliness and generosity will be sorely missed by all those who had the pleasure of meeting him. Our thoughts are with Sophie, Finn and Thor at this sad time.