Prominent members of Leicester’s diverse community have paid tribute to Simon Cole – a man with time for everyone – not a king, but “a kingmaker”.
Simon Cole, former Chief Constable of Leicestershire Police was found dead at his home yesterday morning (March 30) causing a ripple of shockwaves to spread throughout the community.
He had retired from the role he had occupied for 12 years, just 12 days before his body was discovered at his home address in Kibworth Harcourt.
Romail Gulzar, founder of the Pukaar Group had held a special retirement dinner for Mr Cole just four weeks ahead of his retirement, where he had discussed his retirement plans – and his hopes for spending more time with his family, including his two children.
“When I heard the news at first I just thought there must be an error or this must be a prank. But then I thought this is a very sad prank to make. I could not believe it, and just for a few seconds, I was juggling in my mind whether that was the truth or not,” said Mr Gulzar, who has known Simon for 10 years, as both a colleague and a friend.
“My heart is broken. He should not be in the news like this. He does not deserve this news.
“He’s a great leader. He was the Chief Constable but his title didn’t suit him,” he added.
“He was a ‘people person’ with time for everyone. He wasn’t a king – he was a kingmaker.
“Before his retirement, I said to him ‘this is a great opportunity for you, at 55, to retire and enjoy spending time with your family,’ he went on to say.
“I’m not sure what happened between then and now, but when I heard the news yesterday, I just keep thinking ‘how come this person, who was a few weeks back talking about spending time with the family and his kids – going away – having a holiday, is now gone – it doesn’t make sense.”
The cause of Mr Cole’s death hasn’t yet been revealed and has been described by Leicestershire Police as a matter for the coroner.
Suleman Nagdi MBE, spokesman for the Federation of Muslim Organisations, said he recently held a ‘farewell event’ for Simon who retired on March 18, where various members of Leicester’s interfaith community came together to thank him for his support over the years.
“If one had witnessed the love in the room, the respect of this gentleman…It was second to none,” he said.
“He was extremely respected, in fact so much so that he had a profile not only local and national, but even at a European level.
“Community cohesion was at the very heart of his being. To him I don’t think it was a job, it was more of a passion working with the community.
“I think we need to be extremely grateful that we had such a Chief Constable, and I think it’ll be very hard to find a replacement for him,” he added.
“Personally it feels like some sort of disturbed sleep that I can’t get out of.
“He was only 55 and I felt that he had so much more to offer to city of Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland and further a field.”
A public book of condolence for Simon Cole, will be established in the coming days via the Leicestershire Police website at: https://www.leics.police.uk/