The Simon Cumbers Media Fund was set up by Irish Aid in 2005 in memory of the Irish journalist and cameraman, who was killed while on assignment in Saudi Arabia the previous year.
Originally from Navan, Co Meath, Simon Cumbers was an experienced journalist, whose career took him from newspaper and radio reporting in Ireland to reporting and producing for ITN and Channel 4 Daily – amongst others – in the UK.
While in the UK, Simon retrained as a cameraman and began working as a freelance news cameraman, with a focus on foreign news. Carving out a successful freelance career, his work took him to every continent, from the Amazonian rain forests to the African deserts and the Arctic Circle. He covered civil unrest in Indonesia; earthquakes in Turkey and India, and the 2004 train bombings in Madrid. Alongside his wife, Louise Bevan, he also ran his own newsgathering and production company, Locum Productions.
In June 2004, at the age of 36, Simon Cumbers was murdered by terrorist gunmen while filming a report for BBC News in Saudi Arabia. The attackers opened fire on Simon and his colleague, BBC correspondent Frank Gardner, in a suburb of Riyadh. Simon died at the scene and Frank Gardner was seriously injured.
In the aftermath of Simon’s death, Irish journalist Orla Guerin wrote an obituary about him that was published in The Guardian. In it, she describes him as ‘a gifted journalist’ and ‘courage personified’ and relates her experience of working with him in the Arctic circle, after the sinking of the Russian navy submarine, the Kursk. The full obituary can be read here.
In 2005, a little over a year after his death, in close consultation with Louise Bevan and the extended Cumbers family, Irish Aid established the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to honour his memory. The aim of the Fund is to assist and promote more and better-quality media coverage of development issues in the Irish media.