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Packed gathering farewells Lady Penelope

Thu 15 Aug 2013 In: New Zealand Daily News

Simon Blomfield was this afternoon remembered as "flamboyant, colourful and larger than life" by family and friends who gathered this afternoon for his emotional funeral service. Blomfield, who performed in Auckland as his drag persona Lady Penelope, died at home last Thursday, aged 38. His family remembered a child for whom "life was like a play and the world was his stage." Born in Christchurch, one of seven children, he moved to Auckland in 1976 at the tender age of two. Even then, the packed gathering at St Matthew's In The City heard, he was different from other children. Celebrant Keith King raised a laugh when he noted how at school when the youngsters took off their shoes there would be a row of little children's shoes and one pair of knee-high white boots, sometimes accompanied by a white veil. Learning difficulties in his younger years meant Blomfield struggled with writing and speaking but this was more than compensated for his visual skills. He was a gifted artist, producing a string of sketched images - particularly of glamorous and exotically dressed women. He could remember places he had visited while as young as two years old due to his remarkable visual memory. An uncle remembered how he "loved the dramatic" and how he would stage dramatic entrances. "For as long as I can remember he loved to dress up," a sister, Melissa, said. He had once texted a friend from a bridal gown shop, saying "I am in heaven!" But for all his dramatic ways Blomfield could be "almost painfully shy" with a "subdued and kind side to his personality." Mother Barbara and sister Melissa Occasionally he could be sharp-tongued, as when a group of children were gathered at his childhood home and were trying to think of games to play. Simon, who did not appreciate their presence, immediately suggested: "How about playing 'Go home, Stay home.'" In Auckland he gravitated to Karangahape Road and created his drag persona, Lady Penelope, a larger than life personality with "a killer walk." Recalling a darker moment it was noted that leaving Karangahape Road to go home one night he was set upon by thugs and severely beaten. It was later discovered that his jaw had been completely broken in the attack but he had endured the pain silently and stoically. Blomfield's uncle noted that his nephew and god-child "found employment wasn't easy" but eventually settled into a job where his employers appreciated and accommodated his skills and personality. As a long-serving employee they had just given him a trip to Queenstown as an expression of their appreciation of him. He died before he could take the trip. And, likewise,  after winning a holiday in Sydney he died just as his passport was being arranged. A close friend said Blomfield accepted "people of all backgrounds and creeds without malice or judgement." With tears in his eyes he observed that "Goodbye is hard to say when you're not ready to farewell someone." After thanking all his family and friends for their support since her son's sudden death, his mother, Barbara, said that without that support she would have found the grief unbearable. With tears in her eyes she said that "life was not always easy for Simon... society's expectations were unyielding when it came to someone who was outside the norm... Rest in peace my child."    

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Thursday, 15th August 2013 - 4:33pm

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